The Aging Physician

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


After decades of working in the medical field, physicians have gathered an extensive knowledge of human pathology as well as effective courses of treatment for illnesses. However, aging may also bring about cognitive deterioration, which may compromise the quality of care physicians provide to their patients. In 2015, 23 percent of physicians were above the age of 65. An estimated 25,000 to 50,000 active physicians are expected to suffer from mild cognitive impairment and up to 25,000 from dementia. Currently, physicians are not held to a mandatory retirement age and are not subject to oversight of their cognitive abilities and physical health as they age. However, the current system of self-regulation for cognitive impairment is insufficient for protecting patient safety; on the other hand, mandatory retirement or screening of aging physicians may be ethically or legally problematic. An optimal solution would balance the safety of patients and the dignity of aging physicians. It is likely to be multipronged and multifactorial, involving multiple screening steps and continued development to assess the quality of validation. Adoption of healthy lifestyle practices and financial literacy, as well as providing opportunities for retired physicians to stay involved with the medical profession, may encourage successful aging among physicians and ease the transition to retirement.

Original languageUndefined
Title of host publicationPrinciples of Medical Professionalism
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780197506226, 9780197506257
StatePublished - Apr 2021

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