Q: My mom is 79. She has been going to the same family doctor practically her whole life. Does she need to see a doctor that specializes in elderly people, such as a Geriatrician?
A: Treating older adults is very different from treating younger patients. Older people are more susceptible to diseases found in people of all ages. They may also suffer from progressive diseases that tend to become more severe as they age.
A geriatrician is a medical doctor who has additional training and experience in assessing, diagnosing and treating the problems that are especially common in people as they age. Often the challenges involve chronic, complex medical conditions. These can be physical, psychological and social issues. Geriatricians also encourage routine care and wellness regiments.
Geriatricians are board-certified in internal or family medicine and have a minimum of one year of clinical training in geriatric medicine. Some other specialists may also take additional training in geriatrics and specialize in geriatric psychology, cardiology and oncology.
Gerontologists have advanced degrees in the study of aging but are not physicians.
If you are wondering where can find a geriatrician in your area, you can start your search here or call:
- American Geriatrics Society (212) 308-1414
- The American Board of Internal Medicine (215) 446-3590
Susan Levy, M.D., is the Vice President of Medical Affairs and Medical Director at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital.