When to get a Geriatric Checkup

If you are an older individual or a relative or friend to one, you may be wondering when may be the best time to get a geriatric checkup. If that’s the case, then ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I over 65?
  • Am I concerned that my medical issues might not be part of aging normally?
  • Would I like advice on how to stay healthy later in life?
  • Would I like to talk about whether or not screening tests, such as mammograms or colonoscopies are still beneficial?
  • Are my health issues keeping me from living a fulfilling life?

If your answers to any of these questions were “yes,” or if you would like to have a doctor who specializes in aging adult care, it could benefit you to see a geriatrician.

What is a geriatrician?

Geriatricians are doctors whose specialty lies in assessing, diagnosing and treating older people. They perform their first training after medical school in the specialties of family practice or internal medicine, and afterwards they complete at least one more year of specialty training by finishing a geriatrics follow-up.

There are approximately 9,000 geriatricians in the nation (both MDs and DOs). Also, there are more than 2,400 board-certified geropsychiatrists (a psychiatrist trained to deal with mental issues and syndromes facing older people) in the U.S.

What do they do?

Geriatricians help older adults maintain their function. Many things change as we get older, like metabolism, or medical issues that are common in seniors. Geriatricians help to enable and empower people to continue to live a life that is both fulfilling, and one that will help them keep doing the activities and pursuits they enjoy.

They are very knowledgeable in treating those with multiple medical issues, and are specifically trained in how these issues can affect both the physical and emotional healing of an older person. They are also experts in geriatric syndromes, common health issues among the elderly. Things like falls, incontinence, memory issues, depression, and side effects from a lot of medications are all issues a geriatrician specializes in.

When should you see a geriatrician?

The truth is that not everyone needs to see one just because they’re older than 65. Everybody is different, and people over 65 generally have different degrees of health, illness, and disability. Geriatricians do, though, give care to older adults who have complicated medical and social issues. A geriatrician should be seen, regardless of age, when:

  • A senior’s condition causes great impairment and frailty. These people usually are over the age of 75 and deal with a variety of diseases and disabilities, including both physical and mental issues.
  • Family members and friends of the person feel a great deal of stress or strain when trying to care for the elderly person.

Where do they see patients?

A lot of geriatricians see patients in doctor’s offices and hospitals. Some hospitals even have special geriatric wings where they care for patients, and the staff is also taught some of the specific concerns that show up when elderly people are hospitalized (like falls or confusion).

However, some geriatricians also focus on seeing people in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and continuing care retirement communities. Others may give house calls for patients who are too frail to leave their home to come to the doctor’s office.