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Geriatricians are primary care doctors who have had additional training in the health care needs of older people.
So, why should you consider seeing one? In many cases, people over 65 – especially those over 80 – have special medical needs. Geriatricians have a deeper understanding of how these issues might affect a senior’s ability to function day-to-day and how the conditions should be treated.
Here’s a look at how geriatricians approach five of the more serious senior health issues:
1. Frailty. Frailty is an inevitable part of aging, but it may affect an elderly person’s ability to function independently at different times and in different ways (e.g. making them more susceptible to falls and needing more supervision and assistance). A geriatrician can help anticipate problems and put a care plan in place.
2. Multiple medical problems. Many seniors manage multiple medical conditions, such as arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, and neurological conditions. A geriatrician has special training in how these conditions interact in seniors.
3. Multiple medications. Multiple medical conditions often require taking multiple prescription drugs. An older body breaks down medications differently than a younger one. Geriatricians are trained to recognize side effects and drug interactions in seniors.
4. Mental decline. Some loss of cognitive ability is an inevitable part of aging, but certain symptoms may indicate such common conditions such as depression or dementia. Geriatricians are trained to know the difference between the signs of normal aging and those of more serious illness and provide the appropriate treatment.
5. Caregiving advice. Being a caregiver for someone with senior health issues can be confusing, stressful, and exhausting. A geriatrician can help with finding the right outside assistance and support from professionals such as a care manager or a home aide.