Why You Need to Find a Geriatrician for the Best Senior Health Care

Why You Need to Find a Geriatrician for the Best Senior Health Care
An older woman is receiving the best senior health care from her geriatrician, who is sitting across from her and gesturing with his hands as he explains something.

The best senior health care is provided by a geriatrician who is an expert in the unique needs of older adults.

If your child suddenly developed an illness, who would you call? It’s a no-brainer; many parents have the number on speed dial for the pediatrician they’ve carefully chosen to manage the medical care needs of their children. With their specialized training, working with a trusted pediatrician ensures the best possible care.

Likewise, selecting the best senior health care provider who focuses on specific health concerns of older adults is equally as important. However, sadly, the health care system as a whole has not placed a great focus on the unique health care needs of seniors. Dr. Carla Perissinotto, geriatrician and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, shares her alarm over this age-related health care gap, and how little professors in medical school are focused on caring for senior patients.

In fact, looking back at her own residency, she shares, “We literally did the same thing for forty-year-olds as we did for eighty-year-olds, and we’d treat all eighty-year-olds the same whether they’re dependent or independent, have limited life expectancy or complete life expectancy, and that just didn’t sit well with me.”

Fortunately, there is a new push to provide med students with increased geriatric training, including an emphasis on a holistic strategy to senior care – thinking about the body in its entirety. It is important for older adults to have a trusted geriatrician who is able to oversee and piece together the effects of the often multiple specialists an older adult patient sees. As a matter of fact, providing additional instruction for anyone who comes in contact with seniors in a medical setting – from EMTs to hospital receptionists and triage workers to doctors and nurses – is essential to combat ageism and ensure seniors receive the standard of care they want and deserve.

In addition, seniors and their family caregivers might want to look into the services of a geriatrician as their primary care physician. Not to be mistaken for gerontologists, who concentrate on aging-related matters but are not medical doctors, geriatricians are board-certified physicians who have completed a fellowship in geriatric medicine and have passed the Geriatric Medicine Certification Exam.

According to the American Society of Geriatrics, there are approximately 7,000 certified geriatricians in the United States. They recommend evaluating prospective geriatricians by asking the following types of questions:

  • What training and certification have you received?
  • Do you accept my insurance plan?
  • Will you collaborate with all members of my health care team?
  • How is communication handled – texts about prescription refills, email appointment reminders, etc.?
  • What is your driving philosophy?

Schedule an in-person visit with the geriatrician for an introductory consultation, and evaluate additional details such as:

  • Is the office convenient to access?
  • Is there plenty of parking?
  • Are the staff respectful and courteous?
  • Does the geriatrician speak directly to the older adult?
  • Are questions answered thoroughly?

Pay attention to your gut feelings. If any red flags are noted, you may want to consider searching further to ensure the geriatrician selected is an individual both you and the senior are completely comfortable with.

At Hired Hands Homecare, our caregivers are fully trained in providing compassionate, specialized care for seniors in the comfort of home. Reach out to us any time at (866) 940-4343 for help and support or to acquire more information about our personalized home care services in Novato, Pleasanton, Santa Rosa, and the surrounding areas.

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