Finding the right doctor can be tricky at any stage in life, but as we age there are more unique considerations to factor into our search. Geriatricians are medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases in older adults. Just like children see pediatricians based on the unique needs of childhood development, older adults can often experience physical and cognitive changes that require specialized care. Geriatricians are trained to understand these changes and provide comprehensive care that caters to the unique needs of older patients. They can also provide valuable counsel to family members who are involved in a loved one’s care. In short, seeking the care of a geriatrician can ensure the best quality of life for older adults as they continue to age.
According to the American Society of Geriatrics, the need for geriatric doctors greatly outpaces the number of physicians who specialize in this area. With the number of available geriatricians at a premium, finding the right one becomes that much more important. To help you make sure you find the best fit, this blog post will explore what to look for in a geriatrician and who should see this type of doctor. First, let’s begin by unpacking in more detail what exactly a geriatrician does.
What does a Geriatrician Specialize in?
Geriatricians specialize in caring for older adults, but there is no certain age that qualifies a patient to be seen by a geriatrician. While it’s most common for adults that are over age 65 to seek the care of a geriatric doctor, it’s often more important to consider an individual’s medical needs than to associate an age benchmark with geriatric care.
Working with a multidisciplinary team that may include physician assistants, nurse practitioners, medical assistant, and other recommended professionals, geriatricians provide comprehensive care that takes into account the patient’s medical history, current health conditions, and any other relevant factors that may affect their health, including social and environmental factors. They also help manage their patients’ medications and can coordinate necessary medical procedures or tests.
Some of the most common conditions that geriatricians specialize in include:
- Dementia and cognitive decline
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Heart disease
- Depression and other mental health conditions
- Incontinence and other bladder control issues
- Falls and other mobility issues
- Chronic pain management
- End-of-life and palliative care
While this list covers many conditions that geriatricians specialize in, it is not an exhaustive list. Geriatricians have a broad range of knowledge and expertise, which allows them to provide the best possible care for the elderly population.
Who Should See a Geriatrician?
Many people associate seeing a geriatrician with end-of-life care, which can create confusion when researching what to look for in a geriatrician. As previously mentioned, geriatricians can help manage a wide scope of conditions for older adults, and this is not dependent on age so much as on medical needs. Older adults with complex and interconnected medical conditions or multiple medications are often the most in need of a geriatrician.
What Qualities Should you Look for in a Geriatrician?
When choosing a geriatric doctor, there are various medical qualifications and interpersonal qualities to consider. We have selected our top five recommendations to help guide you:
- Relevant qualifications, training, and certification in geriatric medicine: It’s a good idea to ask your doctor about their certifications or areas of specialty, especially since there are many unique conditions and medical needs for the aging population. Feeling confident in your doctor’s ability to treat and manage specific conditions is very important to patient care.
- Exceptional communication skills: The ability to provide clear, understandable explanations to their patients, and a willingness to answer patients’ questions is an essential skill for a top geriatric doctor.
- Empathetic and responsive bedside manner: Due to the sensitive nature of many conditions that geriatricians manage, it’s critical that geriatric doctors take a patient-centered approach which includes a focus on understanding and addressing the emotional and social aspects of care.
- Collaborative: The geriatrician should be able to coordinate care, connect patients with specialists, and communicate effectively with a patient’s family members and caregivers. A good geriatrician will involve the patient and their family members in every step of the decision-making process, striving to help them maintain autonomy and quality of life.
- Accessible: This final consideration looks at the logistical side of interacting with the doctor, especially ensuring that your insurance covers care with the geriatric doctor that you’re considering. At Meadowcrest, we are always happy to help you with insurance questions and have several blog posts about Medicare available for you to read.
In summary, when you’re considering what to look for in a geriatrician, remember that the best geriatric doctor should be knowledgeable, communicative, compassionate, and able to provide comprehensive care that takes into account the full picture of a patient’s health. If you have any questions about connecting with the right geriatrician, please contact us at (352) 795-0644. We’re more than happy to help you.