Can Benefit Your Health
A geriatrician is a physician trained to deal with the health care needs of the elderly. Sadly, as people age, health deteriorates and performing the activities of everyday life may become challenging. As a geriatrician, my primary job is to recognize the nature of the patient’s problems so that I can deal with its medical aspects. At the same time, I do everything I can to help strengthen the patient’s support system. My goal is always to help my patient maintain his or her independence..
Some of the serious senior health issues include:
While some loss of cognitive ability is associated with aging, there is a big difference between forgetting a name or word for a moment or three and true memory decline. When the decline in cognitive ability is accompanied by other losses of mental function, and becomes severe enough to interfere with daily life and everyday activities, the patient is considered to suffer from dementia disorder. The most common and best known form of dementia disorder is Alzheimer’s disease. The geriatric examination includes evaluation of the patient’s mental condition in order to identify signs of illness that are different from those of normal aging, more rapid or more extreme, and then suggesting treatments, as appropriate.
Multiple Medical Problems
The number of chronic medical problems that we may have typically increases as we age. For this reason, patients may present with a variety of conditions, alone or in combination. A brief list includes, but is not limited to: arthritis, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, incontinence, memory loss. These conditions may interact, confusing diagnoses and treatments. Doctors trained as geriatric physicians are equipped to deal with the aging body in ways that internists and specialists in specific subspecialties are not.
As the number of chronic medical conditions increase, so will the number of medications required to treat them. The body’s ability to handle medications decreases with age, and the number of possible inadvertent side effects increases. The geriatrician is trained to recognize these risks and to be alert to interactions of the medicines that may be appropriate for each conditions but dangerous in combination.
Studies indicate that 20% of our population aged 80 and above meet the criteria for frailty, even absent specific acute or chronic medical conditions. Signs of frailty include unintentional loss of weight, muscle weakness, physical slowness, poor endurance. Frail elderly are more likely to fall; they are at greater risk of skin breakdown; they have a greater likelihood of postoperative complications and they often require more time in hospital than other patients following surgery. A geriatrician can help anticipate these problems and can suggest strategies when it is necessary to deal with them.