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Ask Dr. Narrett

Created date

October 22nd, 2009

Q: My family doctor (who I ve been seeing for 20 years) is retiring. I am 76 years old and have high blood pressure and arthritis. Should I look for a geriatrician?

A:A geriatrician is an excellent choice, especially if you have multiple health conditions and are taking several medications. A geriatrician is a physician trained in managing the special health needs of older adults, which are often more complex than those of a younger person. Geriatricians tend to spend more time with each patient and evaluate not only the physical aspects of an illness but also how that illness affects daily life functions. To find a geriatrician near you, call the American Geriatrics Society s Foundation for Health in Aging at 1-800-563-4916, or you can search in your state by specialty (geriatrics) at [caption id="attachment_6394" align="alignright" width="237" caption="(File photo)"][/caption]

Q: I eat hamburger occasionally, and I ve always had it cooked rare. But recently, my doctor told me to have it cooked at least medium well because of the chance of foodborne illness. Do I need to be concerned about this at my age (I m 68)?

A:You should follow your doctor s advice. Food-borne illness can affect anyone, but older adults are at increased risk for a number of reasons. As you age, your body may produce less stomach acid, making it harder to get rid of harmful bacteria that enter your digestive system. Your digestion may also slow down, allowing harmful bacteria to stay in your body longer. Also, changes in smell and taste can keep you from knowing when food is spoiled. Food-borne illnesses can cause serious health problems for older adults. An older person who gets a food-borne illness is likely to be sicker longer, and if hospitalized, is likely to have a longer hospital stay than a younger person. For more useful information about these topics and many more, read Narrett s book, Old is the New Young. In this book, he and other leading specialists take the latest clinical research findings on aging and turn them into simple steps for healthy living. Old is the New Young is on sale now at Dr. Matthew Narrett is the chief medical officer of Erickson Retirement Communities, heading up America s leading group of experts in geriatric health care. A graduate of Harvard Medical School, Narrett has spoken at conferences, media events, health leadership summits, and congressional forums on a variety of issues affecting today s seniors. Send him your questions by e-mail to