Thursday, May 19, 2016

When it comes to doctors, do you need a specialist in aging?

You do not need to see a geriatrician just because you reach a certain age, even if it’s 100.  But some problems that become more common when you get older may make it a good idea.  What signs suggest you might benefit from a geriatrician?

Multiple, chronic health problems—People with more than one condition may be dealing with several doctors.  Geriatricians can determine whether drugs are interacting improperly and help individuals navigate the health care system.

A decline in strength, balance or memory—Geriatricians are trained to look at your overall health.  When undiagnosed problems affect an aging patient, geriatric training may provide insights that other doctors sometimes miss.

Certain problems that can be considered geriatric syndromes—Such problems may have more than one cause and may emerge in times of illness or stress, such as during a hospital stay.  Geriatric syndromes may include falls, unexplained weight loss, delirium, sleep problems and bladder incontinence.  Even if the symptoms vanish, a geriatric assessment may be appropriate to look for underlying causes.

You are a caregiver and are feeling overwhelmed—Geriatricians recognize the importance of family caregivers and the impact of their patient’s home environment.  A geriatrician might recommend some local services that could ease your burden, and talk you through a sensible approach to your caregiving responsibilities.

Geriatric expertise can help in different stages of care.  Some offer primary care; others specialize in specific medical fields, such as cardiology, neurology or oncology as well as geriatrics.

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