When to See a Geriatrician

When to See a Geriatrician

You may be very comfortable with your physician and understandably hesitant to visit someone new, but just as you would see a specialist in cardiology for heart issues, you may want to consider visiting a geriatrician as you age. A geriatrician is a physician who specializes in the unique health care needs of older adults. Geriatrics can encompass a variety of care, including treating chronic illnesses, the loss of memory and cognitive ability, and skin issues that can be common later in life. These specialists can help address nutritional needs, mobility and balance concerns, and medication and drug interaction concerns, and can help you manage preventive care. Coordination of your health care, from screenings and lab tests to diagnosis and treatment, can be handled by a geriatrician who understands all of the factors that may affect your health.

When should you consult with a geriatrician? When you or someone you love has reached an age and condition of frailty, impairment, or complexity of medical issues that would require more specific attention geared for the needs of the elderly, you should consider discussing your concerns with a geriatrician. Geriatricians are experts in unraveling the complicated conditions of the elderly, when overlapping symptoms can make resolving issues more difficult. For instance, an injury caused by a fall might actually be the result of osteoporosis, sleep disorders, or urinary incontinence.

The geriatric team can consist of many different professionals who can help assess medical needs and any changes in your ability to manage activities of daily living. Aside from the geriatrician who would lead the team, you or your loved one could benefit from the services of a nurse, physical therapist, social worker, occupational therapist, pharmacist, speech and hearing specialist, nutritionist, and even a geriatric psychiatrist.

Maintaining independence and quality of life should be a priority for the geriatric team, who can help add years to a patient’s life and can help provide skilled emotional support for caregivers who might be under a considerable amount of stress. It is common for family members to be included in geriatric care, as your ability to perform activities of daily living and your living arrangements can affect your loved ones.