Seniors have special needs, especially when it comes to medical advice. Here’s why you should consider finding a Geriatrician for your golden years.
When a child hits puberty and enters adolescence, he usually transitions from seeing a pediatrician to seeing a physician who specializes in the care of adults. In the same way, once you start to enter old age, you might want to transition again to a doctor who specializes in the care of adults your age. If you or a loved one is getting older, think about switching from your current primary care physician to seeing a geriatric specialist, or a geriatrician.
What is a Geriatrician?
A geriatrician is simply a medical doctor who specializes in the field of geriatrics, the study of the health and care of older adults. It is important to note, however, that a geriatrician is typically a family doctor or an internal medicine physician who has had additional training in the field of geriatrics.
While a regular doctor is typically trained to focus on the patient’s specific illness or ailment, a geriatrician is trained to consider all aspects of the patient’s life and how they impact his or her health and wellness.
These doctors typically work closely with other healthcare professionals such as gerontological nurses, nutritionists, rehabilitation therapists, social workers, and psychiatrists to ensure that the patient receives comprehensive care. They may also help to coordinate treatments among the patient’s individual specialists.
Tips for Finding a Geriatrician
If you or your loved one has multiple health- or age-related problems, it may be time to find a geriatrician. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of geriatricians in the United States, so you may need to do a bit of legwork to find one in your area. Here are some tips for finding a geriatrician:
- Perform a search in your area using the American Board of Family Medicine website.
- Try searching Medicare’s online Physician Compare tool using your zip code and the search term “geriatric medicine” (you can also call Medicare at 800-633-4227).
- Ask for a referral at your local clinic dedicated to the care of older adults – you can also look for local academic medical centers and clinics affiliated with med schools.
- Look for a PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) center in your area.
- Search the list of healthcare professionals using a referral service like HealthinAging.org.
If you are lucky enough to come up with a list of several geriatricians in your area, take the time to narrow down your options before making your choice.
Do some research into the background of each doctor and make sure they the one you choose is Board Certified in Geriatric Medicine or that he has a Certificate of Added Qualifications in Geriatric Medicine. He should also be a member of the American Geriatrics Society. You may also want to schedule an initial consultation with one or more geriatricians so you can meet them face to face to see if it might be a good fit for you and your loved one.
Once you find a geriatrician, it is important that you seek routine medical care. When you get older, medical problems can come on suddenly and if you don’t catch them right away, it could lead to serious complications. With your geriatrician’s help you can monitor underlying health problems and catch developing illnesses while they are still treatable.
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