If your young son or daughter suddenly developed a high fever, who would you call? It’s a no-brainer; many parents have the phone number on speed dial for the pediatrician they have meticulously chosen to oversee the medical care needs of their children. With their specialized training, working with a trusted pediatrician ensures the best possible care.
Similarly, selecting a health care provider for senior loved ones who focuses on senior health care concerns is just as essential. Yet sadly, the health care system as a whole has not placed a great focus on the distinct health care needs of older adults. Dr. Carla Perissinotto, geriatrician and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, explains her alarm over this age-related health care gap, and how little professors in medical school are focused on elder care.
In fact, looking back at her own residency, she shares, “We literally did the same thing for forty-year-olds as we did for eighty-year-olds, and we’d treat all eighty-year-olds the same whether they’re dependent or independent, have limited life expectancy or complete life expectancy, and that just didn’t sit well with me.”
Fortunately, there has been a new push to provide med students with increased training in geriatrics, such as an emphasis on a holistic approach to older adult care – evaluating the body as a whole. It is essential for older adults to have a reliable geriatrician who is able to manage and put together the effects of the often multiple specialists a senior patient sees. As a matter of fact, providing additional instruction for anyone who comes in contact with seniors in a medical setting – from hospital receptionists to EMTs and triage workers to nurses and doctors – is essential to fight ageism and ensure seniors obtain the standard of care they need and deserve.
Furthermore, seniors and their family caregivers may want to research the services of a geriatrician as their primary care physician. Not to be confused with gerontologists, who specialize in aging-related matters but are not medical doctors, geriatricians are board-certified physicians who have finished a fellowship in geriatric medicine and have passed the Geriatric Medicine Certification Exam.
According to the American Society of Geriatrics, there are approximately 7,000 certified geriatricians in the United States. They recommend assessing potential geriatricians by asking the following types of questions:
- What certification and training have you received?
- Do you accept my insurance coverage?
- Will you work with all of my healthcare team?
- How is communication handled – email appointment reminders, texts about prescription refills, etc.?
- What is your driving philosophy?
Schedule an in-person visit with the geriatrician for an introductory consultation, and evaluate additional details such as:
- Is the office easily accessible?
- Is there lots of parking?
- Is the staff courteous and respectful?
- Does the geriatrician speak directly to the senior?
- Are questions answered thoroughly?
Don’t dismiss your gut feelings. If any warning signs are noted, you might want to consider searching further to ensure the geriatrician selected is someone you and the senior loved one are completely comfortable with.
At JFS Care, the leading caregiver agency in Los Angeles, our care team members are fully trained in providing compassionate, specialized care for seniors within the comfort and familiarity of home. Call us any time at (213) 383-2273 for assistance or to acquire more information about our customized home care services. Click here to see our full service area.