According to a Washington Post article citing U.S. Census data, the three states with the highest median age are Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. This probably doesn’t come as a great surprise to many of us living here, but it does raise some stark issues.
Primary among these issues is the question of how to provide care as our population ages and there are fewer in the younger generations to provide care? This issue is even more acute considering we are quite rural in our makeup. There are only a few hospitals in the twin states with the resources and staff to provide a full breadth of acute care (in regard to intensive care units) as well as specialists across the spectrum of care.
For Parkinson’s care, this issue is even more challenging. There are very few movement disorder specialists in Vermont and New Hampshire. Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center has hired a third specialist to help meet the need. But beyond DHMC and Fletcher Allen, there are not a large number of options for such specialized expertise in Vermont and New Hampshire.
So how do we tackle this problem? There are no easy solutions, especially in light of the slow recovery from the 2008 economic collapse. Financial resources is one challenge, but for some doctors, our rural setting is a negative rather than an attraction. Beyond doctors, we also need more resources in terms of training for community health workers in clinics around the twin states.
The Parkinson’s Comfort Project wants to be a part of solving this challenge. The first step is learning the scope of the needs in Vermont and New Hampshire. You can tell us more by taking one of our surveys or by contacting us directly. We look forward to hearing from you!