Aging population means doctors will have to listen more closely to older patients

In 2034 77 million of the US population will be over 65. This means “older people” will outnumber children! More importantly, it means that the marketplace will have to change. YAY!!

So what will happen to medical care? In previous columns I have discussed how many doctors ignore their elder patients. When these patients come in with complaints, many doctors barely listen and instead simply prescribe a drug that Medicare covers. This is done to validate the patients “concerns” – not because they actually need it. One such senior went to two dermatologists about a skin lesion. Both doctors told him it was nothing. The third dermatologist LISTENED, tested and diagnosed Merkel, a rare, aggressive skin cancer. He is alive today because of his own persistence.

I fired Mom and Dad’s doctor. This woman spent a total of 15 minutes with both of them (I was there) and neither she or her nurse were available by phone. Any little thing, they had to show up at the office for an in person visit – Mother in a wheelchair with Dad pushing her. In other words, they weren’t her priority, billing the Medicare Advantage Plan took precedence. Further, because she saw them together she billed for two patients; 15 minutes = 30 minutes on her billing plan!!

This is an area where seniors must demand service! Whether it’s a Medicare Advantage Plan or a Medicare supplement plan, each of us has a right to quality medical care. One client, who hated the medicine he was on, told me that his doctor said this was what he prescribed so he (the client) should take it. I reminded him that he was in control of his body – not the doctor. Further, unless you tell the doctor that the medicine makes you feel bad, he doesn’t have all the information and cannot make an informed diagnosis.

Our culture somehow tries to shame seniors into being silent. The fact that we’re older does not equate to being dumber – in fact, the opposite is true. We have much more wisdom and experience as we age. We know our minds and bodies, and like the “Merkel Man” know when something is not right. Some of us are more vigilant about every little issue (hypochondria) and some are never sick (anosognosia). Most of us have a healthy respect for our body and have an annual check-up whether we need it or not. It gives us peace of mind.


By H. Frances Reaves, Esq.

A graduate of University of Miami Law School, Frances spent ten years as a litigator/ lobbyist. She founded Parent Your Parents to assist seniors and their children through the myriad of pitfalls and options of "senior care".

If you have any questions or comments contact Frances at hfrancesr@parentyourparents.com

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