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There is one thing that’s certain in life. And that is, if you follow the normal transition, you will age. The sands of time pass, and youth and adulthood are gone before you know it. Now, you are facing your sunset years, which come with some challenges. One of the most significant of challenges you face in this state is geriatric healthcare. And a geriatric doctor can help you with that.
Common geriatric conditions include hearing loss, refractive errors, cataracts and in some cases dementia. There are variations in older people’s health. Such could be due to social and physical environments. Factors like communities, ethnicity, socioeconomic status and personal characteristics play a role.
You could find an 80-year-old with a much younger person’s mental and physical capacity.
Others will experience a decline in their capabilities. These groups will need the necessary support, including proper healthcare. This is one critical function geriatric doctors provide.
So what are the essential geriatric medicine questions to ask your doctor? Let’s explore some pertinent ones below.
Is It Important To Have a Geriatric Doctor?
An important question for many would be whether it is necessary to have a geriatric doctor. After all, wouldn’t any other physician be able to provide the same level of care?
What you need to understand is who a geriatric doctor is. This is a medical professional whose area of expertise is caring for older adults. You entrust your child to a pediatrician right? Well, the same thinking applies for older adults seeing geriatric doctors.
A geriatric doctor understands the nuances of health implications of aging populations. They are in the best position to offer treatment options for this demographic.
Please note that even within the geriatric medicine, there are varying specialties. Some will deal with patients who are anywhere from the age of 55. But others go deeper into older age groups of 80 and above.
The heterogeneity of geriatrics is also worth noting. As we said, an 80-year-old may have the capabilities of a younger person. The reverse is also true.
A 50-year-old could have diseases that would typically exist in much older adults. The geriatric doctor must have a good understanding of such nuances. That way, they can tailor make treatment options.
What Kind of Procedures Should One Expect During A Visit To A Geriatric Doctor?
Reputable geriatric doctors work with multidisciplinary teams. The primary physician will be in charge of coordinating interventions. They will diagnose disease, prescribe medication and give relevant advice. This could be around coping within the home environment. The same applies to managing different conditions, including limited mobility.
The team may include physiotherapists, occupational therapists and even social workers. But, the support does not only extend to the patient. Primary caregivers and family members can also find invaluable support.
What Do I Need To Know About Geriatric Medications?
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The geriatric doctor will prescribe medication after careful assessment of your health. The range of drugs prescribed depend on your condition. Do take time to review the medications and ask all the necessary questions. Pertinent ones could include:-
- Drug interactions
- Side effects
- Alternative treatment options or medications. Etc.
Please feel free to air your concerns to your primary care physician. The same applies if you notice any issues after taking medication.
Another concern for geriatric patients is the polypharmacy nature of the treatment. It is not uncommon for one patient to take more than five prescriptions. Remember, geriatrics can suffer from several diseases. Each may need specific medication to manage the condition.
Research indicates older adults take upwards of four prescription drugs every single day. And up to 39% take five or more types of medications.
It is crucial to seek advice from the doctor about combining such medications. You have to know about interactions, side effects and more to get the full benefit of the treatment.
In some instances, geriatric doctors can even do away with some of the medication. This happens if the drugs are deemed harmful or inappropriate. Also polypharmacy is the leading reason for medication non-adherence. Keeping this in mind, the geriatric physician might consider cuttiong down medications as they see fit.
Will The Geriatric Doctor Become My Primary Care Physician?
The answer to the question depends on the geriatric doctor’s practice. Some will prefer to assist your general doctor on a consultative basis as the need arises. Others would rather take on the primary care physician role.
As the patient, you also have leeway to choose what works better for you. The advantage of the geriatric doctor taking over is it allows for the creation of a medical history. It also makes sense if you start experiencing age-related complications that only the geriatric doctor can help with.
As we said, geriatric medicine is a specialty area. Your primary care physician may not have the expertise to offer the best care.
Do I Need A Geriatric Assessment?
A geriatric assessment is critical to providing proper healthcare for older adults. It looks at functional status, nutritional status, medical conditions, and social support.
The assessment can determine the quality of life. It is also a valuable tool for building a framework upon which to sustain or improve the older adult’s life.
The doctors get valuable insights into the best treatment and long-term care. It also makes it easier to assign family and social responsibilities to caregivers.
A geriatric assessment provides an in-depth exploration of the patient’s life. This would be unlike a traditional examination, which only focuses on health. That is why it is vital to have the assessment.
Geriatric assessments are typical when a patient moves into a care facility or home. But you don’t have to wait until that time to get one. Indeed your doctor can recommend it if they see any cause for concern.
Different doctors have different templates or methodologies for carrying out an assessment. The physician will walk you through what the procedure will be like. Remember, as a patient, you have a right to ask all the questions you may have. Reputable geriatric physicians will have no issue providing a detailed breakdown.
The truth is that health care needs tend to increase as we age. But having the proper care can improve the quality of life. Geriatric doctors fill in this vital role for older adults. They specialize in treating age-related issues. The level of care is not one general physicians may be able to give.
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