Geriatric medicine is designed to help patients enjoy their golden years without having to worry about health problems. A good geriatrician can diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions that frequently occur in older people. At Your Family Medical in Bedford, TX, our geriatricians treat those aged 60 and over. The main focus of this type of medicine is to allow patients to retain mobility, prevent accidents, and maintain independence.
Geriatric Medicine FAQs: At What Age Should You See a Geriatrician?
Most geriatricians accept patients aged 60 or 65 and older. If you’re not ready to switch to a different doctor, you can keep seeing your family medicine specialist at our clinic. Once this doctor can no longer meet your needs, our geriatricians are here to help you manage chronic issues, prevent falls, and live a healthy life into your 80s or 90s.
Although geriatricians mainly work with older people, they are happy to consult with the family members of their patients. They also collaborate with other medical professionals, like nurses, home health aides, pharmacists, social workers, physical therapists, and mental health specialists to provide the best service possible.
What Does a Geriatrician Do?
As you grow older, your healthcare needs change. You might no longer be as mobile as before and require help around the house. You also have to be screened for diseases more frequently because you’re more likely to develop them. A good geriatrician focuses on preventing serious diseases, so they encourage you to visit the clinic at least once or twice a year for a check-up.
They don’t just look at a specific symptom when treating you. Instead, they take into account your background, medical history, and lifestyle to determine what kind of care you need. Aside from physical conditions, many geriatricians also help patients to preserve their mental health. If they suspect that there is an issue, they refer the person to a psychologist.
Determining Care Needs
Getting great care is important because it allows you to live your life to the fullest and remain at home, even if you’re no longer able to complete all household tasks on your own. During your first appointment, your geriatrician will determine whether you need any help and if so, what people or organizations are most suitable. Some elderly patients benefit from having a home health aide who visits them every day or several times a week.
Others simply need to come to the clinic more often, or they benefit from physiotherapy sessions and group exercise classes. Sometimes, making changes to their homes helps patients to remain mobile. Installing handrails, purchasing a non-slip shower mat, and installing an outdoor ramp or step rail can help patients to be comfortable and safe despite their physical challenges.
Screening for Diseases
The older you get, the more susceptible you are to disease. That’s why you need to see your doctor regularly and get screened for diabetes, cancer, coronary heart disease, and various types of infections. You might be asked for a blood, stool, and urine sample as part of the routine tests. Your doctor might also do imaging studies to determine whether there are any issues.
Regular screening helps many people feel secure and reassured because they know that they aren’t suffering from a life-threatening disease. However, some see the process as a nuisance, especially once they aren’t able to move around easily anymore. Good geriatricians can determine when screening is sensible and when it is not needed.
Preventing and Treating Fall Injuries
Falling is a major issue for older people. Each year, 3 million patients are treated in emergency rooms due to a fall. Around 32,000 people die as a direct result of a fall, but many more suffer from long-term issues like limited mobility and increased pain after their accident. Your geriatrician will assess your risk of falling during your first meeting and then determine whether any changes to your lifestyle are necessary.
If you’ve fallen in the past and you live alone, you might be asked to wear a personal alarm. This allows you to contact someone if you can’t get up on your own. The geriatrician might recommend gentle exercise to keep your muscles and joints strong. They’ll speak to you about avoiding stairs and adapting your home if they believe that you aren’t safe.
A big part of geriatric medicine is monitoring patients’ behavior over time. The geriatrician gets to know the person and can tell if they are no longer acting like themselves due to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Some of the telltale signs are memory loss, difficulty concentrating, struggling to follow a conversation, mood changes, and being confused about times and places.
Your geriatrician might ask you to take part in further testing if they believe that you are suffering from dementia. They might also suggest that you work with a specialist who understands the unique needs of people with memory loss. You can reduce the impact of dementia on your life by eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, communicating your needs clearly, and taking your time when completing tasks you struggle with.
Helping Patients with Urinary Incontinence
Urinary incontinence is a very common problem. It affects both genders, but women are more likely to suffer from it than men. It often starts after childbirth or during menopause. The symptoms are an urgent need to urinate and the inability to contain urine when coughing, sneezing, laughing, or jumping. Sometimes, urinary incontinence can be treated with holistic methods like muscle-strengthening exercises.
At other times, treatment is necessary. Several minimally invasive therapies can reduce the symptoms. If you suffer from urinary incontinence, your geriatrician will help you to determine which ones could be suitable. Some treatments are administered at the clinic, but others are carried out by specialists.
Preventing and Treating Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease is one of the biggest issues for patients over the age of 60. It affects nearly half the population, and over 600,000 people die from heart-related conditions every year. Geriatricians evaluate patients’ risk levels and help them to improve their lifestyles. Achieving a healthy weight is one of the best ways of preventing cardiovascular disease.
You can reduce the likelihood of serious complications by managing diabetes and prediabetes, eating a healthy diet, doing regular cardiovascular exercise, and reducing your stress levels. If you already have heart disease, your geriatrician will help you to manage it. They might advise you to come to the clinic regularly, monitor your condition and your blood pressure at home, and avoid risky habits like smoking or drinking a lot of alcohol.
Diagnosing Mental Health Issues
Mental health issues are becoming increasingly common among elderly people. Some studies indicate that up to 50% of older adults suffer from anxiety, depression, or other mental health conditions. Some of the factors that contribute to this problem are loneliness and the lack of social contact, financial worries, and deteriorating health.
Your pediatrician will speak to you about your mental health and ask you whether you’ve ever had issues in the past. If necessary, they can refer you to a psychologist or therapist. They might also suggest activities that promote good mental health. These include spending time outdoors, regularly meeting friends and family members, and participating in activities you enjoy.
Should I See a Geriatrician or a Regular Doctor?
If you already have a doctor you see regularly, there’s no reason to switch immediately once you turn 60 or 65. Most family medicine professionals understand the challenges of growing older, and they can identify the issues mentioned earlier. However, you might want to contact a geriatrician if you’re over 60 and you don’t yet see a doctor regularly.
The earlier you can build up a relationship with your geriatrician, the better. If they know you well, they can monitor your conditions more effectively, and they’re more likely to notice changes. You might also feel more comfortable discussing intimate issues like urinary incontinence and dementia with a doctor you already trust.
Get the Care You Need As You Grow Older
Geriatricians help patients to retain their mobility and live independently as they grow older. Most clinics accept people over the age of 60 or 65, but not everyone needs geriatric medicine at that stage. Some people are fit and healthy into their 80s or even their 90s. Get in touch with us at Your Family Medical in Bedford, TX to find out more about our geriatric department. We’ll be thrilled to welcome you to the clinic and help you age with confidence.