Month: What is a Geriatrician?
- A geriatrician is a physician who, in addition to completing a residency in internal medicine or family medicine, has also completed additional training in geriatric medicine.
- That extra training in geriatrics focuses on promoting and maintaining the health, function and quality of life of older patients. This additional training also provides an older-adult-specific perspective on preventing and treating disease.
- If you have a primary care doctor with whom you have a great relationship, the prospect of changing that physician may not be appealing. In that case, it can be helpful to utilize a geriatrician as a consultant.
- The Crozer-Keystone Center for Geriatric Medicine also offers the Geriatric Evaluation and Management (GEM) program, which fully assess a geriatric patient’s medical issues and the impact of these issues on all areas of life and function.
the most important decisions we make regarding our healthcare is the primary
care physician we choose to be the first line of contact in our health
management. Ideally, your primary
care physician is someone who knows you, has an excellent command of medical
knowledge and practice techniques, and has access to specialists who can
further assist you when a specific issue arises. It should also be someone with
whom you are comfortable and can work with together as a team to attain the
best medical outcomes for you.
adults, this is especially important. As we age, some very basic things about
our body – how we process medication, the likelihood of having more than one
chronic condition, different needs in terms of maintaining/improving our
function – change quite a bit from when we were 20 or 35 years old. And these
differences are about to become an even bigger issue in medicine. According to
the National Institute on Aging, the number of Americans aged 65 and older was
39 million in 2008; that number is expected to grow to 70 million by 2030. For
these reasons and more, it can be very beneficial to have a primary care
physician who specializes in your age group. For people over the age of 60,
that specialist is a geriatrician.
geriatrician is a physician who, in addition to completing a residency in
internal medicine or family medicine, has also completed additional training (a
fellowship) in geriatric medicine. That extra training in geriatrics focuses on
promoting and maintaining the health, function and quality of life of older
patients. This additional training also provides an older-adult-specific
perspective on preventing and treating disease.
example of where this extra training can make a big difference is medication
management. A 65-, 70- or 80-year-old body processes medication much
differently than a 25- or 30-year-old body. A physician who understands these
differences is better able to analyze which medication may have an unwanted
side effect, or if multiple medications are interacting in a negative way in an
older adult. And other conditions – like urinary incontinence, memory issues
and balance problems – occur more often in older adults and for different
reasons than they do in younger patients. Having a geriatrician on board can
make a big difference in the assessment and treatment of these conditions.
also have unique experience in problems such as memory loss and cognitive
impairment. Contrary to popular belief, memory loss is not a normal part of
aging. While diseases like Alzheimer’s are becoming well known (and currently
there are between 2.4 million and 5.1 million people in the United States
suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, according to the National Institute on
Aging), it is far from the only cause of memory loss.
patient starts to show signs of cognitive impairment, a geriatrician does a
full medical workup that often includes blood work to rule out a metabolic
cause or mineral imbalance; a brain scan (CT scan or MRI) to examine any
physical changes in the brain that may indicate a reason for the impairment; as
well as cognitive testing to measure and identify the nature of the cognitive
problem. If the diagnosis is Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia,
your geriatrician will often be able to work with you in terms of next steps,
planning for the future, and referrals to other resources to support you and
have a primary care doctor with whom you have a great relationship, the
prospect of changing that physician may not be appealing. In that case, it can
be helpful to utilize a geriatrician as a consultant. Just like you see a
cardiologist for heart issues or a dermatologist for skin issues, a
geriatrician can also function as a specialist who can work with your primary
care doctor when any number of geriatric-specific issues crop up. Again, issues like memory impairment,
difficulty walking or increasing falls, changes in urinary continence, or even
a medication evaluation are things that geriatricians are able to assess and
treat and provide feedback on to your primary care physician.
The Crozer-Keystone Center for Geriatric Medicine also offers the
Geriatric Evaluation and Management (GEM) program. The Geriatric Evaluation and
Management Program offers a one-of-a-kind geriatric assessment provided by a
board-certified geriatrician, a nurse, a social worker and a geriatric
psychiatrist or psychologist to not only fully assess the patient’s medical issues, but also
to assess the impact of these issues on all areas of life and function. This
team is also often able to make recommendations and linkages to community
supports as well as other specialists to assist patients and their caregivers
with creating the best quality of life possible, all while working with the
primary care physician.
the right physician/physician team is always important, no matter what your
age. For older adults, a
geriatrician can offer a great deal for their unique needs.
To contact the Crozer-Keystone Center for Geriatric Medicine, call
(610) 499-7180 or visit www.crozer.org, click on Seniors, then Crozer-Keystone
Center for Geriatric Medicine.
To learn more about Crozer-Keystone’s Senior Health
Services department and the wide range of program and services it offers,
including Crozer-Keystone Village, visit http://srhealthservices.crozer.org
or call the Senior Support Line at 1-800-CKHS-KEY (1-800-254-7539).
Jennifer Marshall is a social
worker and coordinator of the Geriatric Evaluation and Management Program for
the Crozer-Keystone Center for Geriatric Medicine at Crozer-Chester Medical