You see a podiatrist when you have foot issues, a cardiologist for issues pertaining to the heart, and an oncologist when you need a consult on cancer. However, what about a doctor that specializes in the senior population?
A geriatrician, or a doctor who specializes in the senior population, is specialized in helping the aging population maintain proper health, functional independence, and quality of life. As the American population continues to age, the demand for the specialty from a geriatrician will grow as well.
The population in the United States is aging, quickly. The national average age is increasing and we are living longer lives than we did 50 years ago. This is due, in part, to the medical advancements and research in medicine. These advancements in medicine have not only allowed humans to live longer, but they have helped keep individuals active and independent. With this increase in life and independence, medical demands have grown considerably over the past 50 years. Listed below are some reasons to consider a geriatrician.
- Arthritis - Arthritis affects 50 million adults in the United States and this number is expected to grow in the near future. With the “Baby Boomers” turning 65 years old, the number of individuals expected to have diagnosed arthritis by the year 2020 is 67 million, an increase of 17 million. In addition, arthritis affects 50 percent of individuals over the age of 65 years and the condition is more prevalent in the female gender than in males.
- Heart Disease - Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States and many seniors are affected by cardiac issues. Heart disease entails any disease of the cardiac muscle and can lead to a lower quality of life in the senior population.
- Frailty - Frailty is attributed to weakness throughout the body. One such reason as to why an individual over the age of 65 becomes frail is muscle loss, or sarcopenia. Starting in mid-life, the body begins to slowly lose muscle mass and this loss continues to increase as the body ages. A Geriatrician can help guide and slow the loss of muscle attributed to aging by recommending proper exercise accompanied with proper diet.
- Dementia - Dementia is the loss of mental capacity as one ages and this condition entails a handful of mental conditions. Dementia is a highly prevalent condition among individuals over the age of 65 and a Geriatrician can provide ways to help slow the progression of the disease.
- Multiple Heath Conditions - Seniors experience multiple conditions which affect cognition, physical abilities, and quality of life. Health conditions can vary depending on the individual and can either be chronic or acute. Geriatricians are specialized in understanding the plethora of health conditions an individual has and as a medical doctor, can prescribe the proper care.
The care that is involved in an aging population needs to come from qualified personnel. Individuals over the age of 65 should consult with a geriatrician for any medical need. The healthcare setting provides a team of clinicians with advanced degrees trained to work with these particular individuals.
Registered nurses provide care to a wide range of individuals and many nurses are employed in retirement communities, hospitals, and nursing home facilities. Physical therapists are specialized in rehabilitating physical conditions and can help maintain proper muscle balances for proper functioning. Occupational therapists work with a wide range of individuals to help restore occupational activities to help maintain or improve activities of daily living.
The demand for these qualified professionals, in addition to geriatricians, is increasing as more research is published about the care of individuals. The healthcare system is more of a network of professionals collaborating to provide the best care possible for each individual issue.