November 14, 2014

I'm Finally Seeing a Geriatrician. It's About Time!

Yesterday, I had my first meeting  with my geriatrician Dr. G. My research into seniors' healthcare issues convinced me that seeing a geriatric specialist-- not a standard-issue internist -- made more sense for me. I'm hopeful that my new doctor will help me make my remaining years as comfortable and rewarding as possible.

Dr. G is highly regarded and wasn't accepting new patients. But she recently hired two young doctors as associates. At first I was disappointed that I'd been assigned to one of those young docs -- let's call him Dr. A. --  and wouldn't have  Dr. G. all to myself. But both G and A will work with me as a team. Upon reflection, I think the plan makes good sense.

It wasn't clear from my initial meeting but I  guess the associates will  handle the garden-variety ailments -- gaining experience -- while Dr. G gets more time to concentrate on  complex issues... all the while remaining available to her associates and their patients.

I had a relaxed, fun chat with Dr. A during our first visit. He asked questions and showed real interest in my situation. Often in the past, I've felt like I was on a patient conveyor belt that ran through the doctor's office. The conveyor would stop when I arrived but only for  15 minutes; the doctor would spend much of the time cranking data into a laptop scarcely looking at me. Not so with Dr. A.

What's a Geriatrician?
Geriatricians are physicians who have completed residencies in either internal or family medicine. They also spend a year or two studying the medical, social, and psychological issues common among elderly people.

These specialists diagnose and manage multiple disease symptoms, developing care plans that address the special needs of older adults. Their patients may suffer chronic, complex medical conditions, including physical, social and psychological issues.
They may also possess special sensitivity to help their elderly patients remain highly functional and achieve the best possible quality of life. That's very important to me.

Geriatricians Today
I've been reading and thoroughly enjoying a new book titled Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. Author Atul Gawande -- a top surgeon and staff writer for The New Yorker -- has created the best book I've ever read on how out health care system treats -- often mistreats -- the aging and dying.

Gawande is highly critical of our healthcare system's failure to meet the needs of the elderly. He outlines what it will take to create sensitive, humane end-of-life care. It's not surprising that his checklist of remedies includes getting more geriatricians involved.

I had planned to elaborate on Dr. Gawande's thoughts about geriatricians. But  Parkinson's support group begins in one hour. And I know that I can blather on at length when I'm racing to finish a blog post.

So, today it's a welcome shorter post!

Next week, I'll share a full report on Being Mortal.


Anonymous said...

I gather our doctors hate keying data into computers during our office visits just as much as we hate it. Unfortunately, it's the way of the world, whether they - and we - like it or not.

Anonymous said...

How did you find your doctor?

John Schappi said...

She was referred to me by the doctor who handles my blood pressure meds.