As we age, the health challenges we face become more complex. Chronic conditions, as well as the list of medications can quickly pile on. As such, a more holistic view of the geriatric patient may become essential. If you or an aging loved one is beginning to become overwhelmed, it may be time to consider a new approach. That is where a geriatrician or geriatric medical doctor is useful.
A geriatric medical doctor can help an elderly patient when:
- The physical and mental health management of senior adults becomes too complex for a regular internist.
- You find that you are trying to coordinate too many specialists.
- The list of medications becomes complicated and confusing.
What Is a Geriatrician?
A geriatrician is a board-certified family medicine or internal medicine physician with an additional 1-2 years of fellowship training in geriatric medicine. A geriatric care physician offers a unified framework to issues facing the elderly. They look as things such as adult-onset diseases, incontinence, dementia, depression and changes in mobility. Their focus is on enhancing quality of life and helping older adults remain independent for as long as possible.
A Geriatric Doctor’s Approach
Geriatricians use a “whole-body” approach in patient care as their paradigm. During a first visit, you can expect an extremely comprehensive geriatric assessment with a number of components. These include a thorough physical examination after a full recording of the patient’s medical history including a pain assessment. The workup will also include cognitive testing, osteoporosis and arthritic evaluation. A nutritional assessment along with vision, hearing and dental screenings are included as well. Additionally, inputs from a geriatric social worker and the family are often important components of the evaluation.
A Necessary Coordinator
Geriatricians are adept at working closely with the multiple specialists who currently manage chronic illnesses of the elderly patient. Based on the patient’s health status, life expectancy and personal directives, geriatric physicians are selective when it comes to ordering certain tests or performing procedures weighing the costs and benefits of each, as they can be physically and mentally stressful for aging patients. Routine or preventative testing may be counterproductive or risky in certain circumstances. In addition, you will find that a geriatrician is extremely sensitive when listening to the concerns of the elderly patient and in helping them deal with end-of-life issues. They realize the importance of incorporating the unique psycho-social issues related to the elderly into their care plan. Geriatricians can also act as important resources for their particular needs.
As we age, our metabolism changes and medications are absorbed differently than when we are young. A geriatrician pharmacologically monitors all of the patient’s illnesses and evaluates the therapeutic efficacy and dosage of medications. Polypharmacy, which is managing multiple medications, can unintentionally, and needlessly, result in dangerous drug interactions. A geriatrician is uniquely qualified to recognize and avoid the problem of over-medication with an eye toward managing any over-the-counter or supplements that find their way into the mix.
We Need More Geriatricians
Geriatric medicine is poised to grow as our population ages. Some 6,200 health care providers nationally are members of the American Geriatric Society, which includes physicians, psychiatrists, nurses, pharmacists, physician’s assistants and social workers, all focused on the prevention and treatment of the diseases and unique challenges that face older adults. Lifescript Doctor Review has an interactive portal to help you find a qualified doctor in your area with the expertise you and your family need as you transition into this new phase of life. We owe it to our elderly to make sure they are properly cared for.
For additional support, please call David York Home Healthcare Agency at (877) 216-7676. David York Agency is abreast of all the latest guidelines for seniors and can satisfy all your questions. We would be happy to give you more information and discuss your case with you. David York Agency provides healthcare professionals to the elderly and infirm, with the highest degree of personal service. To hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn. For any of your questions concerning elder care, contact us.