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Caring for Mom and Dad is never easy, whether you’re around the corner or across the country. If you’ve noticed things just don’t seem right with their health, it may be time to work with someone who can help guide them to whole health with a holistic approach to their care.
Specialized Care for Aging Parents
It’s no secret that as we age, our bodies change — and so do our health needs. Things don’t seem to work quite as they used to in our youth. Another complicating factor is that as our parents age, they may be managing more than one chronic health condition.
Geriatric medicine is a specialty that focuses on senior health, and in preventing and treating disability and diseases as you age. Geriatricians have undergone special training and are typically board-certified in internal medicine or family medicine. This background gives geriatricians a unique understanding — and appreciation — of the challenges your parents may be facing.
A geriatrician takes all aspects of your parents’ health into account, including their medical history, current diagnosis and health care goals. More importantly, geriatricians look beyond your parents’ physical health to assess their spiritual, mental and social health. They’ll want to know how your parents are coping with a diagnosis, and ask about any anxiety, worries or possible feelings of isolation they may be feeling. This important insight can help guide treatment and gives the doctor (and you) better understanding how to care for your parents.
Finding the Right Role for a Geriatrician
Most often, geriatricians treat patients over the age of 65 who are managing multiple medical issues. That may include high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease or cancer. Many geriatricians also see individuals over 65 who want to age as successfully and gracefully as possible.
Geriatricians can also serve as a consultant, and work alongside your parents’ primary care provider to shape a plan that best suits their physical, mental and spiritual health needs.
Your parents may be a good candidate to see a geriatrician if they are:
- Dealing with cognitive impairments, such as memory loss, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
- Experiencing feelings of depression or anxiety
- Managing multiple diseases or disabilities that interfering with their quality of life
- Not eating well or losing weight
- Struggling living on their own
- Unsteady on their feet or falling frequently
A geriatrician may also be a good fit if caregivers are struggling to provide the care their loved one needs. It can be difficult to help an aging parent or loved one manage multiple diagnoses. A geriatrician can help relieve that burden by providing a coordinated approach to care.
Helping Answer Tough Questions
One of the most difficult questions adult children face when caring for their aging parents is whether parents can continue to live on their own. A geriatrician can help provide much-needed insight and guidance on this emotionally complex question.
Your parents’ geriatrician can assess their physical, cognitive, emotional and functional ability to offer an unbiased and neutral opinion. This support and guidance is particularly important to ensure your parents feel respected and safe.
Geriatricians can help you, your parents and other family members determine long-term care needs, such as how long your parents can safely remain in their own homes without assistance, and what type of services may be necessary when they do need some extra help.