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Choose a geriatrician for optimal health

Created date

October 25th, 2011

Matt Narrett, M.D., is chief medical officer for Erickson Living and directs the provision of medical care at all Erickson Living communities. He received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School and is board certified in internal medicine and geriatrics. He is coauthor of Old Is the New Young, a guide to successful aging (available on amazon.com).

If you re like many of today s seniors, you have chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and arthritis, and take at least one prescription medication for each condition. Several specialists may be involved in your treatment and care, so keeping track of your health care regimen can be confusing. A geriatrician can help you straighten it all out. A geriatrician is a medical doctor who is trained in family practice or internal medicine with additional training and/or certification in geriatrics. According to the American Geriatrics Society (AGS), the benefits for patients who choose geriatricians are many: increased patient and family satisfaction, less time spent in hospitals or nursing homes, improved social functioning, decreased rates of depression, and better preservation of physical function.

Highly skilled and trained

Geriatricians have the expertise and leadership skills needed to effectively communicate with multiple specialists and other care providers. They often work with teams of nurse practitioners, psychiatrists, surgeons, pharmacists, social workers, and physical and occupational therapists to ensure that you re receiving optimal care. Geriatricians strive to help you be at your highest level of functioning, and they can often simplify your medication regimen to make it more manageable. Unfortunately, the shortage of geriatricians that already exists in the U.S. is expected to worsen over the next 20 years. The AGS reports that there is currently one geriatrician for every 5,000 adults age 65 and older. In 2030, it is estimated that there will only be one geriatrician for every 7,665 older adults. But despite increased demand for their services, many geriatricians limit their caseloads so they can provide personalized care to their patients. Ask around for a recommendation, or you can search online for a geriatrician in your area using the AGS Foundation for Health in Aging Physician Referral Service atwww.healthinaging.org. Since geriatricians can be hard to find, you can often do equally well by looking for a physician who has years of experience with seniors and enjoys geriatric medicine. He or she should be able to provide the same high-quality care and approach you desire. In good health, Dr. Narrett

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