Perform daily general health care to help patients heal and recover.
As a person ages, things change. There’s the physical stuff (ear hair, anyone?) as well as the mental and emotional. Some of these changes are serious enough to require the help of an expert. A Geriatrician, a specialized Doctor who cares for and heals the elderly, is one such expert.
Like any Doctor, a Geriatrician sees and examines patients, orders x-rays and other tests, and prescribes medications. As a Geriatrician, you diagnose illnesses and keep detailed records to make sure patients improve. The difference between you and other Doctors lies in the age group that you serve.
The elderly have specific diseases, symptoms, and even recovery times that are unlike those of younger adults or kids. You base your decisions on these special needs, and create health plans that take into account the patient’s age. For example you wouldn’t ignore mental confusion in a patient since this is usually a sign of an infection, and you wouldn’t prescribe intense physical therapy after a bad fall.
Oftentimes, elderly patients suffer from more than one problem at once, and this can greatly affect your diagnosis. So you keep close tabs on the medications they’re taking, and collaborate with other professionals, like Physical Therapists or Elder Homecare Workers, to ensure that the patients are not having adverse reactions to too many medications. You also make sure one illness isn’t causing or worsening another, since that will change how you handle each disease.
In addition to helping with the physical stuff, you also work with the patients’ families. You strive to answer questions about future care (like retirement home options), look out for signs of depression in the patients (a common problem as people age), and suggest exercises to keep muscles and bones strong.