Dr. Robert N. Butler is the President and CEO of the International Longevity Center. Whether through his many appearances in front of the United States Congress, or his hundreds of interviews with the media, Dr. Butler has worked tirelessly for decades to push population-aging issues into the public discourse. As a gerontologist and psychiatrist, Dr. Butler recognized discrimination against the elderly as early as 1968, coining the term "ageism." Eight years later, the publication of his Pulitzer-prize-winning "Why Survive? Being Old in America" solidified his reputation as someone who foresaw the impact that aging would have on American society. A founding director of the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health, as well as the nation's first department of geriatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Dr. Butler often consults for television and radio. He is the author of some 300 scientific and medical articles. Source: The International Longevity Center
Topic: Standards of Care for the Elderly
Robert Butler: Well, you know we have a country that only one of ten nursing homes meet basic Federal standards, only one in ten. That means nine of ten do not. So, if we want to have dignified care, one of the first things we have to do is to make the nursing homes much more decent than they presently are. Then, we need to develop home care programs and the in paid, in home caregivers are often wonderful people, but they are poorly treated. They often get no health benefits themselves, no pension benefits, very low pay. In deed everybody says they want to remain in their own home as long as possible. So, we are going to have to have better trained and better paid workforce to take care of people [Inaudible] really want to have a dignified care of old people. <p style="text-align: justify" class="MsoNormal"> <p style="text-align: center" class="MsoNormal" align="center"> How can we encourage more people to go into this field? <p style="text-align: justify" class="MsoNormal"> <p style="text-align: justify" class="MsoNormal">Robert Butler: Well, it is tough because reimbursements are not good and especially in medicine, what happens is the average student who graduates medical school has spent a 150,000 dollars in debt. So, it is very attractive to get into especially where you have a procedure, where you can quickly make money, like you can get let us say 500 or 600 dollars for doing the colonoscopy. You get maybe 100 dollars for seeing the older person for an hour. So, it is not an attractive field as it now stands for many people. On the other hand, there are those who do care deeply about the old people and we have to figure out ways to encourage them to enter the field. <p style="text-align: justify" class="MsoNormal"> <p style="text-align: center" class="MsoNormal" align="center"> How should we fix old age homes? <p style="text-align: justify" class="MsoNormal"> <p style="text-align: justify" class="MsoNormal">Robert Butler: It shouldn't just be the government. It should be the private sector, the nonprofit sector, and I think more and more we have to build a strategy that builds both homes and home care so that more and more people can be cared for at home. Not just in the nursing home or the home for the aged.
Recorded on: Mar 17 2008