If you've had the same family doctor for decades, or you've needed medical care so infrequently you've just seen whoever is on call at the time, you're certainly not alone. But as you grow older, medical appointments may become more common, and seeing someone who has specific knowledge and expertise in the ailments that tend to target older individuals can be invaluable. Read on to learn when you should seek out a geriatric specialist and discover some of the unique insights these practitioners can provide.
What does a geriatric specialist do?
A geriatric specialist is a physician or nurse practitioner who specializes in conditions associated with age. Because of their knowledge on the ways in which aging can biologically impact the body, they're often better-suited to make treatment and medication recommendations for older or elderly patients. Geriatric specialists also emphasize quality of life, and work with their patients to ensure that conditions are being treated in a way that doesn't compromise mobility or mental health.
Not only are some general medical conditions more common with age, the aging process may change the way your body reacts or responds to certain medications and treatments. Geriatric specialists know this, and are able to wade through potentially troublesome medication regimens to determine a treatment that's right for you.
When should you seek out a geriatric specialist as your primary care provider?
If you've had a lifetime of good health and rarely see the doctor for anything but a well visit, you may not see much of a need for a geriatric specialist. But aging can slow the body's immune responses, and you may discover that once your record of good health stumbles, it takes some time and concerted effort to get yourself back on track.
By seeking out geriatric physician consulting at a time when you feel you're too young at heart to need one, you can develop a rapport and relationship with someone who may be able to guide you through any obstacles in your future path.
Meanwhile, those who do manage one or more chronic conditions or who aren't strangers to the doctor's waiting room may also benefit from a consultation with a geriatric specialist. This specialist can guide you toward any lifestyle changes that may reap future benefits or slow the aging process, caution you on what to expect in the future, and give you the confidence you need to tackle any health challenges that may come your way.