With most seniors already seeing a variety of medical professionals, can there be really any advantage to adding yet another? In the case of a geriatric medical specialist, the clear answer is a resounding, “Yes!”
A geriatrician is board-certified in either internal or family medicine, much like a primary care physician, but with the extra benefit of being certified in geriatric medicine. Geriatric specialists are recommended in particular by the American Geriatrics Society for those who are:
- Experiencing significant frailty and/or impairment
- Diagnosed with numerous chronic conditions
- Battling a condition that causes substantial quantities of stress to family caregivers
With a holistic strategy for care, a geriatric medical specialist creates a detailed, customized plan for aging that takes into account both previous and current health history. The plan will address issues like activities of daily living (meals, personal hygiene, dressing, etc.) together with the specific challenges of the older adult’s diagnoses, along with an assessment of the home environment and care that is currently in place. The geriatrician will work directly with the senior’s support system – family, friends, and caregivers – to be certain all bases are covered in regards to meeting care needs.
Choosing the best geriatrician is important. An excellent starting point is the AGS Foundation for Health in Aging (800-563-4916), which provides referrals to geriatric specialists by area. After you have a listing of qualified geriatricians in your area, you can refine your search by obtaining answers to these key questions:
- Is he or she covered under the senior’s medical care plan?
- What are his/her qualifications, including medical education?
- How many years of experience does he/she have?
- Where is the office located, and what are their policies and hours?
You will also want to be sure the geriatrician communicates well, since this is going to be a critical element of the quality of your senior loved one’s care. Once you’ve chosen the geriatric specialist you would like to try, hang on to the listing of alternate providers until after you’ve booked your first appointment and determined that the one you’ve chosen will be a good fit.
Together with the geriatrician, a team of professionals with experience in geriatric care will likely be included, which might include a social worker, nurse, dietitian, physical and occupational therapist, and psychiatrist. Ideally, the team will be able to work cohesively to manage any and all problems, both today and proactively as the older adult’s needs change with time.
Compassionate Nursing Services, a top St. Louis home care agency, is always available to assist as well, using our considerable expertise in aging care and our awareness of the specific needs of each older adult we have the honor of serving. Reach out to us at 314-432-4312 to ask about additional resources, to get answers to the questions you have, or to ask about a free in-home assessment in one of the many communities we serve.