You may be wondering: What does this type of care entail? Is it any different from the arrangements I have previously made for my aging family member? What does ‘geriatric’ even mean? Keep reading to learn about geriatric care and the growing need for these services across the United States.
What Is ‘Geriatrics’?
Geriatrics is a medical specialty dedicated to the care of aging people. There is no specific age when someone should seek geriatric care. However, most people over 75 tend to need skilled care focused on the challenges seniors begin to face as they age.
The need for this type of care will grow in the future. According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2030, everyone in the Baby Boomer generation will be 65 or older. With the expected increase in need, it is important for seniors and their caregivers to learn more about this type of care.
Common Medical Problems Older Adults Face
Older people tend to need more substantial medical care than other populations. They suffer from chronic health conditions at a higher rate, and certain medications may cause negative reactions in their bodies. Geriatric physicians, also known as geriatricians, are specially trained to meet these needs.
Common medical issues that seniors suffer from can include:
- Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease
- Increased risk of falls
- Increased confusion and agitation
- Muscle atrophy
- Heart disease
- Gradual or acute loss of mental capacity
- Other chronic illnesses
How Do Seniors Benefit From Geriatric Care?
Geriatric care may aid in allowing seniors to receive necessary medical care while remaining in their communities. They can build a health care team that addresses each of their needs. Doctors specializing in this field do not replace primary care physicians. As patients age, a primary care doctor works with the geriatrician to address any underlying conditions and create a treatment plan.
Having a strong health care team working for them allows seniors to live healthier and more independent lives. Adding a geriatrics physician to your loved one’s health care team may improve their quality of life.
Some of the benefits of geriatric care include:
- More accurate diagnoses
- Decreased dependence on nursing home care
- Improved quality of life
- Improved cognition and mental function
- Lowered rates of depressive episodes
How Can a Geriatric Care Manager Help Caregivers?
You may be struggling to provide care for aging loved ones. Perhaps you live in another state, have a full-time job, or have serious health conditions of your own.
Geriatric care managers may be able to offer support. These professionals act as advocates for your aging family members. They tend to have formal education and experience in such disciplines as nursing, gerontology, health care administration, or social work.
Note that they usually serve families whose incomes are too high to qualify for Medicaid coverage or other government assistance.
Geriatric care managers provide some of the following services:
- Assisting with long-term care arrangements
- Communicating with out-of-state family members about their loved one’s condition and care plan
- Explaining complexities of long-term care to seniors
- Evaluating and coordinating hired caregivers (including home health care givers)
- Helping seniors apply for social services
- Researching governmental assistance programs or other programs available in your community