As people age, their needs and conditions change. While young people typically struggle with sporting injuries, problems with fertility, and infectious diseases, older people might be more worried about mobility, osteoporosis, and hearing or vision loss. To meet the needs of patients over the age of 60, some doctors specialize in geriatric medicine. Here at Your Family Medical in Bedford, TX, we employ geriatricians who can help you with various concerns.
So, what exactly does a geriatric specialist do? The answer is that they can treat a wide range of conditions, and they work alongside specialists in many fields. Because older people tend to have more health concerns than their younger counterparts, geriatricians often work closely with their patients and see them on a regular basis. Read on to find out which problems this healthcare professional can address.
What Problems Are Commonly Treated With Geriatric Medicine?
As you grow older, you might start to develop more frequent medical issues. Everyone experiences aging differently, but some common problems include hearing and vision loss, incontinence, insomnia, and osteoporosis. A good geriatrician can diagnose all these conditions, and they can communicate with specialists who treat each of the issues.
What’s more, your geriatric expert will help you to change your lifestyle to fit your new situation. For example, they can help you adapt your home, so you can remain mobile for as long as possible. Injury prevention and treatment are also central when working with people over the age of 60. What’s more, many geriatricians offer mental health services, so elderly people can get treatment for anxiety, depression, and more.
Fractures and Other Injuries
People of all ages get injured. While young people might break a bone or tear a ligament while playing sports, older people sometimes get injured because they fall or because they participate in activities that are no longer appropriate for them, like lifting heavy weights or movements that involve a lot of twisting. Geriatricians can perform imaging studies to diagnose your injury and recommend appropriate measures, which might include resting and taking painkillers.
The best doctors will also speak to you about injury prevention, so you can avoid hurting yourself in the future. They might discuss activities you should avoid in the future, how to warm up before exercising, and how to make sure your home is safe for you as you grow older. Your geriatrician might also recommend having your vision checked if they believe that a vision issue could be the reason why you got injured.
Dementia is a general term that refers to a patient’s inability to remember events from the past, make decisions, or think clearly. The most well-known type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, which is a common degenerative condition. However, there are other, less severe forms, which affect a large percentage of the population over the age of 80.
If you’re suffering from age-related memory loss, you should speak to your geriatrician because there might be treatments that can slow down the decline and help you to manage symptoms such as anxiety. What’s more, you might have to make adjustments to your lifestyle to accommodate your new situation. Your doctor will discuss where you can get support and how you can slow down dementia.
There are two kinds of incontinence: urinary incontinence and bowel incontinence. The former is extremely common, especially in women who have had children or gone through the menopause, and it can usually be managed well. There are various treatment options available, and your doctor can show you exercises that strengthen your pelvic floor and reduce your incontinence issues.
Bowel incontinence is a more serious condition because it involves leaking solid or liquid stool. It occurs in people of all ages, although it is more common in older people, those who have muscle or nerve damage, and those who are physically inactive. A good geriatric medicine specialist can help you find the right medication and adjust your diet. If this isn’t enough, they might suggest bowel training or even surgery.
The older you get, the more likely it is that you’ll suffer from a mobility issue. In fact, over 40% of people between 65 and 79 have trouble performing some or all of their regular activities, and the chance of developing a problem increases even further as patients hit 80. For this reason, geriatricians frequently treat patients with limited mobility.
The first thing to do is to future-proof the patient’s home, so they can stay in their own house or apartment for as long as possible. Patients might need to remove clutter, purchase new furniture, and install support bars or anti-slip devices. A geriatrician’s job is to help manage the condition, administer medication if necessary, recommend physiotherapists or exercise classes, and evaluate whether additional support, such as a home health aide, is needed.
As we grow older, our bones become more brittle, and they might be more prone to breaking. Osteoporosis is a serious condition that is more common in women. Once you’ve reached the age of 65, you should visit your doctor on a regular basis, so they can determine whether your bone density is still high. If not, you might need to start taking medication, improve your diet, exercise more frequently, and take vitamin D supplements.
Cancer can affect people of all ages, but some kinds are more common in elderly patients. Breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, and bladder cancer can all affect people over the age of 60. Although some of these diseases can be fatal, many are treatable, especially when they are caught early.
Your geriatrician’s job is to examine you on a regular basis, so anomalies can be investigated. If you’ve developed cancer, your doctor will help you manage the condition and coordinate your care with the oncologists at your chosen hospital.
Diabetes occurs when the body can no longer break down sugar. It can cause a range of symptoms, including the frequent need to urinate, fatigue, and increased thirst. Because type II diabetes is more common in elderly people, patients over the age of 60 should be examined at least once a year.
If you have diabetes, your doctor will help you to manage your treatment. They can invite you for regular checkups, during which they might ask you about your symptoms and examine various physical functions. When managed well, diabetes doesn’t have to be debilitating, and you can live a full life despite the condition.
Insomnia is a big problem for people of all ages. In fact, it is estimated that up to 70 million Americans have trouble sleeping in any given year. There are many reasons for this condition, including stress and worries, physical pain, and adverse environmental conditions. Elderly people might have sleep disturbances related to other conditions such as dementia or because they are in pain.
There are several treatment options, including cognitive behavioral therapy, medication, changes to the sleep environment, and lifestyle changes like a different diet or a more relaxing routine. Your geriatrician will evaluate your individual situation and help you determine how you can improve your sleep.
Hearing and Vision Loss
Many of our tissues deteriorate as we age, including those that regulate our hearing and our vision. Almost everyone over the age of 80 has problems with either their eyesight or their hearing. While these conditions are generally treated by a specialist, they can be diagnosed by your doctor, who will refer you to trusted experts.
Mental Health Conditions
When most people think of geriatric care, conditions like osteoporosis or dementia might come to mind. But some of the most common issues faced by elderly people are loneliness, anxiety, and depression. Fortunately, a good geriatrician can address all of them, so you can feel like yourself again.
In addition to providing you with the necessary medication and showing you how you can change your lifestyle, your doctor can help you find the resources you need. For example, they might advise you to join local interest groups, take part in organized events for people in your age group, or speak to a counselor or therapist.
Get in Touch Today
Geriatricians are doctors who specialize in treating patients in their 60s, 70s, and beyond. They might focus on conditions such as dementia, incontinence, osteoporosis, diabetes, and insomnia, but they can also treat injuries, help patients overcome mobility problems, and address common mental health conditions. Call us at Your Family Medical in Bedford, TX to speak to a geriatric medicine specialist.