Medical care for the elderly is more formally known as geriatric care, and a geriatric physician is sometimes also called a geriatrician. They are a medical doctor that specializes in diagnosing and treating the disorders and diseases that are most common in older adults. They can also advise their patients on ways to prevent or at least slow the development of age-related disabilities. Examples of conditions that a geriatrician might treat include the following:
• Alzheimer’s disease
• Parkinson’s disease
• Sleep apnea
• Urinary incontinence
What is Osteoporosis?
The word ‘osteoporosis’ literally means ‘porous bone,’ and it is a condition in which the bones gradually become less dense. That loss of density gradually makes the bones more fragile and thus increases the risk of fractures. Patients with osteoporosis are particularly likely to break their wrist, hip, or vertebrae.
The condition is most common in women over 50 who have passed through menopause. Asians and Caucasians are more likely to develop the condition than are black people. Some conditions, like Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, or hypogonadism can increase the risk of developing osteoporosis. Some medications, such as lithium, anticonvulsants, or antacids, also increase the risk.
A special type of X-ray can help determine if a patient has osteoporosis or their risk of developing it. A patient can reduce their risk of developing osteoarthritis by getting plenty of calcium and Vitamin D and exercising. The latter is particularly beneficial, for it keeps both bones and muscles strong and reduces the risk of falling.
What is Polypharmacy?
Polypharmacy describes the effects of taking multiple medications for different conditions. Older people with several chronic conditions are particularly susceptible, as the doctors treating those conditions may not know about all of the medications or supplements that the patient is already taking. For example, a patient may have heart disease and diabetes, and two different doctors are treating them. Unless those doctors know what medications the patient is already taking, they could prescribe something that results in drug interactions.
To make matters worse, older people react differently to drugs than do younger people. They don’t absorb or metabolize drugs as well, so they may not get the full benefit from the drug or it might take longer for the effects to wear off. A geriatrician, particularly if they are the patient’s primary caregiver, will thus need to maintain an up-to-date list of all of the prescription medications, supplements, and over-the-counter medications that the patient is currently taking. They should also advise the patient about any over-the-counter drugs known to interact badly with prescription medications they are currently taking.
With medical care for the elderly, a geriatrician working with a new patient may thus ask the patient to bring in everything they are currently taking: prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, and vitamins and other supplements. They will then be able to sort through everything and spot potential problems. The geriatrician will recommend any needed changes.
Get In Touch with Us for More Information
For more information about medical care for the elderly, we warmly invite you to reach out and make an appointment with Centro Medico Latino! At our convenient locations in Charlotte and Monroe, our caring and dedicated team of professionals will be pleased to explain your options in full and answer any questions you may have. Contact us today to set up your consultation – we look forward to speaking with you!