09 Jan Geriatric Medicine
A geriatric physician, also called a geriatrician, is a medical doctor who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease and disability in older adults. A geriatrician is well-trained in the specific diseases and conditions that affect people over 65.
After completing medical school and a three-year residency in internal or family medicine, physicians apply to a geriatric fellowship program (usually one or two years). The fellowship gives physicians the opportunity to receive additional training in the treatment of elderly patients.
In addition to physicians, the geriatric health profession also includes nurse practitioners, social workers, pharmacists, physical therapists, and mental health professionals. The field of geriatric medicine is growing. This is good news for an increasing population of older adults in the United States. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the population of people age 65 and over is projected to be 83.8 million by 2050. The baby boom generation is largely responsible for this increase.
Conditions a Geriatrician Treats
There are many health problems which frequently begin to appear as we age. Geriatricians are knowledgeable and skilled in the prevention and treatment of common medical conditions in an aging population. This encompasses:
- Chronic issues (pain, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension)
- Fall prevention; treatment of falls
- Neurological (dementia, Parkinson’s Disease)
- Sleep Disorders
- Managing multiple medical problems
- Managing multiple medications and medication side effects
A geriatrician is also able to provide a thorough medical assessment and evaluation to determine if an older adult is able to continue to live safely at home. This includes a neurological assessment, and if a senior is able to complete the basic tasks of daily living. A physician’s report is mandatory before someone can move to any type of continuing care community.
Should You See a Geriatrician?
Not everyone who turns 65 needs to see a geriatrician. Family and internal medicine physicians are well-trained and experienced in treating older patients. If you are generally healthy and happy with the care you are receiving with your current doctor there is no need to make a change. However, if you have multiple medical conditions, it may be time to switch to a geriatrician. Have an open, honest, and frank conversation with your primary care physician to discuss your concerns. Your doctor can help guide you and together you can decide if switching to a geriatric physician is the right decision for you. To locate a geriatric physician in your area, click on the link below.
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