Geriatric care is the medical care of adults who are 65 years old or older.
What is geriatric care?
Geriatric care is the medical care of adults who are 65 years old or older. At every stage of life, people have very particular healthcare concerns. For older patients, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes are all of higher concern. More than half of the people who are 65 or older usually have multiple medical problems.
Prescribing the right medication to patients with multiple health issues can be very complex and must be delicately weighed. A drug that might treat one health concern could potentially make another one worse. Many older adults take multiple medications and they can cause problematic side effects and drug interactions. This is why geriatric care is so specialized and important.
Who provides this care?
Geriatricians are doctors who specialize in the evaluation and management of the healthcare needs of older men and women. They are trained to meet the needs and preferences of their patients. Board certified family physicians have been trained to provide care to frail older people who have complicated social and medical problems.
Geriatric care is largely a team effort, since multiple people are needed to care for elderly patients and support their caregivers and families. This team of professionals can include: nurses, physician assistants (PAs), social workers, nutritionists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech and hearing specialists, psychiatrists, psychologists and consultant pharmacists.
This team of professionals work together to address medical, social and emotional needs. Common focuses include:
- Incontinence issues
- Memory problems
- Management of medications
- Chronic condition management
- An older person’s living situation and social support
- Consideration of an older person’s ability to perform daily activities (eating, dressing, bathing, etc.)
When is a geriatrician needed?
Geriatricians should be consulted when an older person’s condition causes massive frailty and impairments. Generally, this occurs in people who are over the age of 75 and have a number of disabilities, diseases and/or cognitive issues. If you are a caregiver to a elderly family member and you are under significant stress, we encourage you to reach out to a geriatrician. This is especially true if you are having trouble following complex treatments or if your family member has multiple health problems.
If you need help finding the right healthcare professional for geriatric care, call the team at North Coast Family Medical Group in Encinitas, California.