We often have families and prospective families and residents asking for advice when it comes to choosing the correct primary care physician. The can happen as many of our residents come from out of state to live near family or want to be informed about the various options for their health care team. With our associates at our independent living, assisted living, and memory care communities ready to help assist with information in these decisions, we often get questions about why exactly a geriatrician may be the right choice.
Geriatricians are specialists in senior health, trained in caring for an aging body. Their knowledge can help keep you happy and healthy throughout your golden years.
As the baby boomer generation enters its senior years, one in five Americans will be over 65. In fact, seniors over age 85 are the fastest-growing segment of the population. If you or any of your loved ones are over 65, being treated by a geriatrician can make all the difference. Geriatricians are primary care doctors who have had additional training in the health care needs of older people.
Seniors have many special medical needs, from addressing the natural aging that goes on within the body to managing multiple medical problems and ensuring social support. Geriatricians have a deeper understanding of how these issues might affect a senior’s ability to function day to day and how the conditions should be treated.
How a Geriatrician Can Benefit Your Health
Geriatricians are trained to recognize how illness in an elderly person is different from illness in a younger person. They know the importance of maintaining independent living and social support as well as of using a holistic approach that emphasizes healthy aging and preventive care.
Here’s a look at how a geriatrician approaches some of the more serious senior health issues:
Frailty. Frailty is an inevitable part of aging, but it may affect an elderly person’s ability to function independently at different times and in different ways, such as making them more susceptible to falls and needing more supervision and assistance. A geriatrician can help anticipate problems and put a care plan in place.
Multiple medical problems. Many seniors manage multiple medical conditions, such as arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, and neurological conditions. A geriatrician has special training in how these conditions interact in seniors.
Multiple medications. Multiple medical conditions often require taking numerous prescription drugs. An older body breaks down medication differently than a younger one. Geriatricians are trained to recognize side effects and drug interactions in seniors.
Mental decline. Some loss of cognitive ability is an inevitable part of aging, but certain symptoms may indicate common conditions such as depression or Alzheimer’s disease. Geriatricians are trained to know the difference between the signs of normal aging and those of more serious illness. They can also provide the appropriate treatment for the condition.
Caregiving advice. Being a caregiver for someone with senior health issues can be confusing, stressful, and exhausting. Seniors may need help with daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, going to the bathroom, or eating. A geriatrician can help with finding the right outside assistance and support from professionals such as assisted living communities, geriatric care managers, Alzheimer’s care and support groups, and Independent Living options.
Your Healthy-Aging Geriatric Team
Because seniors have complicated health issues, one of the most important services a geriatric specialist provides is to coordinate care. Multiple problems often require a team approach. A geriatric specialist’s team may include:
A geriatric nurse
A social worker
Physical and occupational therapists
A registered dietitian or a certified diabetes educator
A geriatric psychiatrist
Finding a Geriatrician
According to the American Geriatric Society, there are only about 9,000 certified geriatricians in the United States. As a result, locating a geriatrician who is taking on new patients can sometimes be difficult, as there is such a growing need. If you think seeing a geriatrician would benefit you or a loved one, ask your current primary care doctor to help with a referral. You can contact any of our Community Relations Directors to discuss geriatricians in your area, visit our website or call today.