Can you remember when you were still young enough to make money on your teeth? Put that tooth under your pillow and overnight the tooth fairy would swap you a quarter. Ka-ching.
Now, when Americans over age 60 have lost a third of their teeth and we could really use the money, it's Tooth Fairy Pass on By.
In a real way, the Tooth Fairy is a metaphor for what's happening in geriatric medical care.There are not enough doctors trained in geriatrics yet med schools report plummeting enrollment in geriatric specialities. We are graduating doctors with zero training in care of the aging population that is growing and growing.
How smart is that?
Just this week, there were dire predictions that the world faces an epidemic of Alzheimer's patients by 2050. That's like next week.
Yet we don't have enough geriatric specialists in the pipeline to replace those doctors who are retiring. Some statisticians say it it already too late to catch up.
America needs something like the WWII Marshall Plan or the CCC to focus on closing the gap. Big pharmaceutical companies, medical schools, the federal government and AARP need to pool their best thinkers and generate an action plan. Today.
OK. Enough of the stump speech. Here's a groaner that is apropos:
Ninety-year-old man goes to see the doctor about his aching left knee.
"It's just old age," says the doc.
"Other knee's the same age."