Geriatrics is a branch of medicine that deals with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease in the older age group. It also includes the problems related to ageing particularly.
The word geriatric derives its origin from Greek work Geron which means an old man and Iatreia which means the treatment of disease.
A person who specializes in this field of medicine is called as a geriatric specialist.
Synonym for Geriatric specialist: Geriatrician.
Why is the need of Geriatric specialist?
1. The body of an adult and that of an old man is quite different. The manifestations of age can be easily seen on any person’s body and with the age increasing it has a specific effect on all the organs of body.
2. Besides this a difference between disease and aging is at times hard to rule out and with rigorous training and experience one can specialize into recognizing the difference between normal aging and the actually pathological change into the body.
3. A geriatric specialist also prevents the adverse effects of aging on the body.
4. The elderly age group is highly susceptible to fall sick and with the increasing age there is decrease in the body’s strength to fight against infection. Mildest of infection can behave fulminantly and affect the day to day lifestyle drastically.
5. The presentation of disease in elderly people cannot be similar as in case of adult people. It may present with vague symptoms as well. Hence a careful evaluation with a help of specialist is favorable.
6. Geriatrician usually have to take an extra effort regarding interactions with patients, many a times deciding on their behalf as decision making gets weak with increasing age and special care must be taken for filling consent forms and such other things. An adult physician usually does not have or rather does not spares so much of time for these activities. Hence a geriatrician is a friend, philosopher, guide and healer to the elderly population.
7. The medication part is also specially taken care of by geriatric specialist. With increasing age the absorption of medicine and the side effects of these medicines on body should be considered. A specialist can therefore look into the details of it in a better way.
Credentials of a geriatric specialist:
The credentials of geriatric specialists should be verified well.
In earlier days no special training was required for this field. With years of experience and skills in caring and treating the elderly people a doctor would attain this specialty.
However in today’s time geriatric specialists is a name reserved for trained and certified professionals only.
Certain competencies are to be achieved for being a geriatric specialist.
A geriatric specialist needs to be very patient and should wish to take care of the elderly people.
He should definitely have great communication skills as with increasing age gaining trust and rapport development is a challenge. The people in this age group are emotionally fragile and actually need a lot of attention.
Treating an old patient does not only mean taking care of him but also providing support to the caregivers. Hence a geriatric specialist is in actual terms a physician for old and an insight provider for caretakers.
Therefore while selecting a specialist the credentials should be well sort out.
What does a Geriatric specialist do for you?
A complete assessment of your health is taken which includes the following:
- Comprehensive history taking.
- A track record of all the medicines he or she is currently on.
- A complete physical examination is done.
- Neurological testings are done to record the effects of aging on brain which include evaluation of cognitive and behavioral attributes, decision making capacity is judged and self independency is noted.
- Then eye tests to rule out aging effects and if found any an appropriate treatment plan suggested for the same. For example if cataract is diagnosed then a scheduled operation for the same.
- The hearing tests are done.
- A dental check up is mandated.
- Screening tests for bone density to check on osteoporosis.
- Gait evaluation and instability and balance problems are checked in for.
- Rehabilitation in case of immobility.
- A dietary advice and consultation is provided.
- Care givers are also counseled and given insight about your condition and how to cope up with presenting problems.
- A timely check for disease related to cardiovascular system.
- Then blood tests to rule out diabetes, cholesterol and other deficiencies.
- Memory screening.
- Insight on hygiene importance and simple tips to maintain hygiene to prevent infections.
- Appropriate medication advice is given as certain doses are harmful in the geriatric age group as they may adversely affect the other organs in the long run.
- Vaccination advice is also given if required.
- Psychological support is also given to patients if required.
- Advice and regimes to combat old age are provided.
- Pain management is also included.
- Physical therapy is also given to maintain the mobility of joints and relieve pain and swelling associated with old age.
The five giants who are famous in geriatric specialist clinic are:
4. Impaired intellect.
5. Impaired memory.
The sub specialty of geriatric specialist can be sort out for specific medical conditions. Below listed are certain sub specialties of geriatric specialist.
1. Geriatric psychologist which focuses on the psychological problems of elderly people. These include memory loss, anxiety, irritability, fastidiousness, impatience, depression, delirium to name a few.
2. Cardio geriatrics which mainly focuses on the cardiovascular diseases of the old age group.
3. Similarly geriatric nephrology deals with renal problems of old age group.
4. Geriatric rheumatology is an upcoming sub specialty as with old age problems of joints and mobility are on the hit list now a days.
5. Geriatric oncology looks into cancers of elderly.
6. Almost every system can have a geriatric specialist and this is very helpful as well.
7. There are geriatric sub specialty clinics also which include cognitive and behavioral specialists, balance specialists, incontinence specialists, and rehabilitation specialists to name a few.
So this was in brief about a geriatric specialist. Hope this information helps you judge better the next time you think of one. You can certainly expect good amount of care, advice and medical expertise form a geriatric specialist.
With this I sign off for now; need to take my grandma for her regular visit to a geriatric specialist.
Copiled By - Ankita Thakker.
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