What is a Geriatrician?
By Pamela D. Wilson, CSA, MS, BS/BA, CG
A geriatrician is a doctor for older adults, like a pediatrician is a doctor for children. People see geriatricians for two main reasons, the first is that they do not want to “get old”, and the second is because became “got old”. Geriatricians are physicians that specialize in the aging process. They complete training in internal or family medicine and then specialize in geriatrics for one to three years.
Geriatricians are more likely to listen and to treat complaints that non-geriatricians might disregard as just old age, for example memory loss. They are also more up to date on the most recent preventative therapies. They may be able to recommend strategies to delay memory problems or screen for bone density and make suggestions to treat osteoporosis before a fall or other injuries occur.
Society has accepted many things as part of aging like aching shoulders or knees, weight loss, an increase in sleeping or loss of social interaction. Many of these indicate possible problems like arthritis, poor nutrition or depression. Preventative care for older adults is extremely important. If we think about loss of balance we can take action to prevent future falls, if we think about memory loss we can take action to minimize confusion, the rate of progression of the memory loss and to plan for future care needs
Many older adults have seen their current doctor for many years and hesitate to make a change even if they feel their current doctor does not listen to them. Old habits are hard to break. Many of us do not like change. As we age, it is wise to consider changing to a geriatrician.
Quality of life includes treating chronic medical conditions. Geriatricians also help patients decide how to deal with difficult medical conditions. It is better to work on preventative and maintenance strategies rather than waiting till a last minute crises arises.
As with any service provider, you know yourself best. Accept the advice offered and compare it with what you know about yourself, your lifestyle and the treatment or suggestions you can make a commitment to act on. If you are looking for a good geriatrician ask around, word of mouth recommendations are usually the best.
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