29 Apr A Geriatrician Guide & Senior Care Philadelphia Resources
Geriatricians focus on treating older patients and are increasingly important.
Our bodies change as we age and our health care needs also evolve as we get older. Geriatrics is a medical specialty focused on the care we need as we age. A geriatrician is an internal medicine physician with additional training focused specifically on the aging population. They specialize in treating conditions that affect older adults and understand the needs and preferences of seniors.
As a specialty it is becoming rarer. This is due, in part, to Medicare and reimbursement. Medicare is the government’s healthcare insurance program for individuals that are 65 and older. It provides relatively low reimbursement rates for geriatricians and they often have lower earnings than other specialists. As a result, fewer doctors are specializing in geriatrics.
Despite geriatricians being in short supply, they are extremely valuable as a resource in patient care targeted to the elderly. If you are closing in on retirement, or managing a health condition(s) that normal affects older adults, consider finding a Philadelphia-area geriatrician.
What does a geriatrician do?
The major benefit of consulting with a geriatrician is their base of specialized training they have in diagnosing, treating, and preventing specific medical and health conditions that may affect you as you get older. Some of the major diseases and conditions that geriatricians manage include:
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s
- Loss of vision and hearing
- Insomnia and trouble sleeping
- Cardiovascular disease
- Balance issues
- Depression and anxiety
- Weakness and frailty
Is a geriatrician and gerontologist the same thing?
Both fields of geriatrics and gerontology deal with aging but geriatrics focuses on the care of aging people while gerontology is the study of the aging process. The field of gerontology is broad, and unlike geriatrics, it includes individuals across a range of professions and industries, including nursing, biology, criminology, physical and occupational therapy, social work, dentistry, economics, public health, and many more.
What kind of training do they get?
Geriatricians have specialty training that goes beyond primary care provider training. They receive an extra one-year fellowship after an internal medicine or family medicine residency.
Do they replace my primary care doctor?
The majority of geriatricians practice medicine in one of two ways. Some will replace an older adult’s primary care physician and take over the role of managing all components of a person’s health. Others will fall into the role of a traditional specialist, being consulted on an as-needed basis to resolve particular concerns.
Some seniors may prefer to switch to a geriatrician before they develop any major health conditions. That way, as they get older (and more complicated), a geriatrician can manage their health conditions adequately. Other older adults may request help as needed, or under the direction of their primary care physician.
Why should I consider seeing a geriatrician?
Generally speaking, the number of medical problems that we have increases with age. Subsequently, the amount of medication we take also goes up, along with the potential for drug interactions and side effects. Internists and family medicine doctors are often able to manage these issues. However, in some cases, doctors that have the training and knowledge to manage multiple medications, complicated medical records, tests, and other specialists can be of great benefit.
Seniors may want to consider the care of a geriatrician who is skilled and trained to manage even the most complicated patients. Many patients with medical problems don’t just have one condition they are dealing with. They may be facing a variety of health concerns all at once like arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, memory loss, incontinence, falls, and managing multiple pills (polypharmacy). These can be very difficult for any care provider to deal with.
That being said, not all older adults need to see a geriatrician. The need depends more on the complexity and quantity of an individual’s medical conditions than on age itself. Your current primary care doctor can also help you decide if seeing a geriatrician is right for you.
But not everyone over the age of 65 needs to see a geriatrician. The need depends more on the number and complexity of the person’s medical conditions than on chronological age. Your primary care physician can help you determine whether the switch to a geriatrician is right for you.
See some of our other valuable senior articles:
- Online Dating for Seniors: A Beginner’s Guide
- 10 Signs of Mental Illness in Seniors
- 6 Tips for Safe Senior Driving
- 7 Tips for Seniors to Avoid COVID-19 Scams
Where can I find local Philadelphia, Pennsylvania geriatricians?
All of the largest health systems in Philadelphia have Geriatric and aging-related programs and specialties in place to adequately provide senior care. You can find these resources below.
Jefferson University Hospitals: Jefferson has a wide range of special programs for older adults.
Penn Geriatric Medicine Program: Penn has an extensive range of geriatric and aging-related service options.
Einstein Health: In addition to geriatric care services, Einstein also has services focused on mental health for seniors.
Main Line Health and Geriatric Care: Main Line is a great and robust option for those living in the Philadelphia suburbs.
Finding the right senior care can be complicated. If you or a loved one managing health needs requires assistance for daily activities, home care services are another great option for seniors with complex medical services. Home care assists with medication reminders, accompanying seniors to medical appointments, help around the house, companionship, and hands-on support.
Chosen Family Home Care is a great care partner for you and your loved one. Through our comprehensive needs assessment and our mission-driven approach, we can determine the best course of action for your loved one, while considering your budget and the individual requirements that your loved one needs.
Follow our insights page for more senior and caregiving resources for you and your loved one.