Geriatric Care: What Seniors Need to Know

Like children, older adults have unique health care needs. As people age, their health changes in many ways.  Geriatric Care doctors specialize in the unique healthcare needs of seniors.

Seniors and Baby Boomers who care for aging parents try to find answers to unique health questions of older adults.  Finding the right kind of care can seem daunting, but a little information and some key resources can help tremendously.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Geriatric Care Doctors

What is a Geriatric Care Doctor?

A Geriatric Care Doctor or Geriatrician is a physician with special training and expertise in caring for older adults, especially those with complex health problems.  Like children, older adults have unique health care needs.  As we age, our bodies change in many ways that affect our health and lifestyle.

Among other things, we’re more likely to develop chronic health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.  The need to manage these diseases with multiple medications also increases.  In addition, medications have potential side effects that need managing as well.

About 80 percent of adults 65 or older have at least one chronic health condition and 50 percent have at least two.  As we grow older it’s also harder for us to recover from illnesses.  A Geriatrician can help manage these unique healthcare needs of seniors.

Why aren’t There More Geriatric Care Doctors?  

Today, there are about 7500 practicing Geriatricians in the U.S.  That’s about one for every 6100 adults over age 65.  Finding a Geriatrician is likely to become even more difficult over the next 20 years, as the nation’s 77 million Baby Boomers reach retirement age.  In Indiana, there are only 8 Geriatric Care doctors and they are located in the Indianapolis area.

Many doctors avoid specializing in geriatrics due to low pay compared to other specialties. This is especially true when new graduates have high school loan debt.  Also, many doctors do not want to rely on Medicare as their primary payer source.

How Do I Find a Geriatric Care Doctor?

To find a Geriatric Care doctor, check with your health insurance provider.  Many internists may have special training in geriatrics even if they are not board certified.  You can also check the Geriatric Association for a local Geriatrician.  Finally, ask other seniors or their children for a referral.  The best referral is from someone you trust and know well.

Conclusion

Whether you are a senior or a caregiver, it is important to find a good doctor who understands the challenges of aging health.  With the pending shortage of Geriatric Care doctors, this may be difficult but not impossible.  The American Geriatrics Association is working to increase the number of healthcare professionals that serve the older population.

References

https://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/articles/2015/04/21/doctor-shortage-who-will-take-care-of-the-elderly
https://www.americangeriatrics.org/

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