Why bother hiring a geriatric physician?
Rajiv Nagaich, a Federal Way based elder law attorney frequently asks clients and listeners to his radio show that if it made sense for them to hire a pediatrician for their children’s health doesn’t it make sense to hire a geriatrician for the health of a geriatric?
Geriatric physicians have completed a residency in either Internal Medicine or Family Medicine but in addition has one to two years in study of the medical, social and psychological issues of individuals 65+. Rather than concentrating on just the treatment of physical problems, a geriatrician will address issues such as memory loss, arthritis, osteoporosis and mobility issues and recognizes how those health conditions impact his/her patients on a social and emotional level.
Some tests and procedures that make sense for younger members of society not only don’t make sense any longer but actually pose a risk for the elderly. The New York Times ran an article that found that physicians routinely prescribed drugs to elderly patients that were specifically advised against for older patients because of severe side effects or the tendency of the drugs to stay in their systems for longer than prescribed. In a study, researchers found that one out of five seniors were prescribed medications from a list of 110 drugs to avoid prescribing to the elderly. About 5 percent of the seniors had been prescribed at least two medications from the list. The study looked at six million men and women who were enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans.
In another study of veterans that was reported in an online article for JAMA Internal Medicine, the frequency of treatment for prostate cancer among men ages 85 and older did not decrease with age and that those who underwent biopsy received aggressive treatment. For older men who underwent prostate cancer treatment, almost 14 percent had new-onset urinary incontinence and a similar percent had new-onset erectile dysfunction.
You can call our offices to get a list of geriatricians for your area or go to www.agingoptionsguide.com to find a complete list. A list of the Beers Criteria for Potentially Inappropriate Medications for Older Adults can be found here.