Your loved one has multiple doctors already. Do they really need to add one more to the list? This post is designed to help you decide whether your loved one should consider seeing a geriatric specialist.
A geriatric specialist provides comprehensive care for the elderly. They’ve completed their residency in Family or Internal Medicine, and have one or two years additional training in the various issues – physical, mental, and social – that affect this age group.
There are several benefits to seeing a geriatric specialist. Seniors sometimes experience illnesses differently than younger adults, and so it helps for them to work with a doctor who understands their specific situation. Geriatric specialists are especially well-equipped to understand the particular complexity of senior health issues, which are typically caused by multiple factors. For example, they can examine a senior’s prescription drug regimine and make sure that they’re not over-medicated. They will also be familiar with the particular resources available to help your loved one in your specific local area.
Whether or not a senior should see a geriatric specialist depends on their particular situation. After all, seniors themselves are different: one 80 year-old may be active with minimal health problems, while another may be struggling with serious health conditions. Geriatric specialists tend to step in when an individual’s health problems become complicated. It’s recommended that all seniors consider a visit when they turn 65, and highly recommended for those seniors who are in some way impaired, who have multiple medical problems, who are experiencing cognitive decline or dementia, or whose family members are struggling with caregiving.
If you do decide to take your loved one to see a geriatric specialist, the initial assessment will take several hours. You’ll be given a detailed questionairre to fill out that your loved one will most likely need help with. Make sure you bring a list of all medications, hearing aids and dentures, eyeglass prescriptions, and information about other doctors your loved on is seeing or has seen recently. The following elements make up a typical assessment:
- Complete physical exam
- Detailed medical history
- List of medications and their purpose
- Dental exam
- Hearing and vision tests
- Pain level analysis
- Cognitive evaluation
- Osteoporosis screening
- Dietary analysis and advice
- Meeting with a social worker
- Discussion with family members
Rather than being “just another doctor” a geriatric specialist can help you with managing the extensive medical care your loved one is already receiving. Many seniors and their caregivers find these physician’s particular expertise helpful.