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VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System

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Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center

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The Need for Education in Geriatrics and Gerontology
The nation's population is aging. Older Americans are now living healthier, better quality lives through scientific interventions that effectively treat or delay disease onset. With increased life expectancy, the number of Americans age 85 and over is rapidly growing. The number of frail and more vulnerable older persons has also increased, yet there is a critical shortage of healthcare professionals trained in geriatrics.

The Needs of Older Veterans
The VA has long recognized geriatrics as a priority area. The demographic imperative of an aging population impacted the Veterans Health Affairs system earlier than the general healthcare community in the United States. Over the last decade, the number of older veterans has increased dramatically and so have their needs for support and healthcare. Older veterans, in contrast to younger veterans,

  • Use hospital resources 3-4 times more frequently.

  • Have a greater number of and more complex set of health conditions.

  • Suffer from more chronic, progressive, degenerative and permanent dysfunction, and have fewer economic and social resources to assist in caregiving.

  • Within the GLAHS, veterans over age 65 years represent 42% of the total patient population.