Senior Citizen's Guide digital books
Senior Citizen's Guide

Geriatric Medicine
Is it Time to See a Specialist?

Are you starting to have trouble making it up the stairs in your home? Is it difficult for you to hear conversations or the television? Have you been "feeling your age" lately and suffering from more aches and pains? Does it seem like you just can't remember things anymore?

Many seniors resign themselves to feeling poorly because they believe their problems are just a natural part of growing older. But aging should not be synonymous with discomfort. Problems that you experience may be due to illness or injury, but they are never due to your age alone.

If you aren't feeling as healthy and independent as you'd like to be, a geriatrician may be able to recommend ways to change your healthcare or daily routine to get you back to feeling like your old self.

Geriatricians are doctors who are board certified in internal medicine or family medicine and have additional training and certification in caring for the elderly. Because geriatricians have general medical training, you may be able to select a geriatrician as your primary care physician. Other geriatricians may act as consultants to your primary care physician.

Geriatricians are trained to deal with memory loss, sleep problems, trouble with balance and falls, arthritis, osteoporosis, and other conditions that older adults often need help with.

For many seniors, it can be a challenge to keep track of a variety of medications and make sure that none of the drugs interact with each other in a harmful way. Drug interactions are often the cause of illnesses for older people. Geriatricans can offer guidance in managing medications.

However, geriatricians do more than diagnose and treat health problems that are common among seniors. Geriatricians collect information about their patients' lifestyles, family and community support networks, and health data to form the "big picture" of each patient's overall level of functioning.

Patients who are gradually becoming more frail and are starting to have trouble getting around on their own may benefit from having a geriatric assessment, in which a geriatrician evaluates their entire health and recommends ways to help the senior function as independently as possible. These recommendations are then shared with your primary care physician and the rest of your health care team.

Geriatricians help patients and their families determine how long they can remain in their own homes without assistance and what type of assistance is appropriate when patients do need some extra help with every day activities.

The job of a geriatrician is to provide you with information to help you stay as healthy and independent as possible and to make recommendations about health care and lifestyle options.

If you've been told that your health problems are just part of getting older, you may want to seek a second opinion from a geriatrician and ask how lifestyle, diet and medication changes could help you feel better.

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