Seniors have unique health needs and an important key to healthy aging is finding the right doctor. For some seniors, switching from a primary care doctor to a geriatrician may be the right move.
What Does a Geriatrician Do?
Geriatricians specialize in a field known as “geriatrics,” which is the branch of medicine focused on senior health. They also focus on disease prevention and treatment of disabilities or disease in older adults. Geriatricians are certified in family medicine or internal medicine, but have the advantage of added certifications in geriatric medicine.
When Seniors May Need to Make the Switch
Seniors may develop common illnesses or disabilities for their age group. While some lucky seniors may not struggle with these concerns, many others have serious problems with activities of daily living, falling frequently, cognitive issues, incontinence or medication related problems. It is suggested that seniors consider a geriatrician if:
- The health condition is causing family members and caregivers significant stress.
- Significant frailty or cognitive impairment occurs.
- There are multiple diseases or disabilities present.
Finding the Right Geriatrician
For those seniors who could benefit from a geriatrician, it is important to find the right one. Generally, a great place to start is by talking to the primary care doctor. These doctors are familiar with the unique medical situation of the senior and may be able to refer them to a local geriatrician.
Before choosing a geriatrician, seniors and their caregivers should gather information and be prepared to ask questions at the initial visit. Seniors should feel free to ask specific questions about the geriatrician, their training, background and approach to the process of healthy aging. Some additional questions seniors and their caregivers should ask are:
- How many years of geriatric care experience does he/she have?
- What are the office hours and standard policies for emergency appointments?
- Does he/she accept the senior’s current health care plan?