It is now widely recognized that people around the world are living longer, more productive lives due to better preventive care, nutrition, improved standards of living and advancements in health care. In the United States, it is estimated that 10,000 “Baby Boomers” will turn 65 years old every day until 2030, which will clearly create new challenges and stress on our health care system. The focus for this burgeoning geriatric population will likely shift from just maximizing longevity to optimizing functional status, quality of life, independence and dignity, which contrasts with our current emphasis in medical training and clinical practice on acute treatment of disease. With the unique physiology and alternative presentations of illness in the geriatric population, we must refocus efforts to meet the needs and challenges of these patients.
In light of these circumstances, advanced training in geriatric medicine is an ideal asset to enable clinicians to make complex treatment plans and develop a modified approach to the geriatric population. In geriatrics, more so than any other discipline, treatment decisions usually do not just impact the immediate outcomes of an illness, but often have long-term consequences that effect a patient’s functional status. The mission of the Internal Medicine Geriatric Medicine Fellowship at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix is to teach the art of getting to know the “person” in "person-centered care.” We must also reinforce the concept that chronologic age is just a number and less important than a patient’s overall functional status. Therefore, the fellowship emphasizes shared decision-making, matching care to a patient’s expressed goals and wishes — regardless of their age.