If your child suddenly developed an illness, who would you call? It’s a no-brainer; many parents have the number programmed on their phone for the pediatrician they have carefully selected to manage the health care needs of their children. With their specialized training, working with a trusted pediatrician ensures the best possible care.
Likewise, selecting a physician for senior loved ones who specializes in senior health care needs, also known as a geriatrician, is just as important. Yet sadly, the health care system in general has not placed a great focus on the distinct health care needs of seniors. Dr. Carla Perissinotto, geriatrician and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, shares her worries over this age-related health care gap, and how little professors in med 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 move to provide med students with further geriatric training, such as a focus on a holistic approach to senior care – evaluating the body as a whole. It’s very important for seniors to have a dependable geriatrician who is able to oversee and put together the results of the often multiple specialists an older adult patient sees. As a matter of fact, providing additional education 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 crucial to combat ageism and ensure seniors receive the level of care they want and deserve.
In addition, older adults and their family caregivers may want to research the services of a geriatrician as their primary care physician. Not to be mistaken for gerontologists, who specialize in aging-related issues but are not medical doctors, geriatricians are board-certified physicians who have finished a fellowship in geriatric medicine and have also passed the Geriatric Medicine Certification Exam.
There are nearly 7,000 certified geriatricians in the U.S., according to the American Society of Geriatrics. They suggest evaluating prospective geriatricians by asking the following types of questions:
- What training and certification have you received?
- Do you accept my insurance coverage?
- Will you collaborate with all members of my healthcare team?
- How is communication handled – email appointment reminders, texts about prescription refills, etc.?
- What is your driving philosophy?
Schedule an in-person visit with the geriatrician for an introductory consultation, and assess additional details such as:
- Is the office convenient to access?
- Is there ample parking?
- Are the staff courteous and respectful?
- Does the geriatrician speak directly to the older adult?
- Do questions receive comprehensive answers?
Don’t dismiss your gut feelings. If any red flags are noted, you may want to consider searching further to ensure the geriatrician selected is someone you and the senior loved one are fully comfortable with.
At Home Sweet Home In-Home Care, our caregivers are fully trained in providing compassionate, specialized care for older adults within the comfort of home. Reach out to us any time for more information about our in home care in Mattawan and other Michigan communities. For a full list of all the areas we serve in Michigan, please visit our Locations page or call our location closest to you: