Categorized | Health, Family Care

An Age-Old Question: When Do You Need a Geriatrician?

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There’s no right age to switch to a geriatric specialist, but there are guidelines that can help determine whether a geriatrician — a physician who specializes in the healthcare needs of people who are aging — is the right choice for you or your loved one.

According to Dr. David Reuben, chief of the division of geriatrics at UCLA, older adults should consider making a geriatrician their primary care physician if they are in their late 60s or 70s and:

Suffer from multiple medical conditions.

Are experiencing functional decline or physical frailty.

Have other conditions associated with aging such as dementia, depression or mobility issues.


“Aging, in and of itself, changes our limits and resiliency, so it’s not surprising that it creates new and evolving health challenges that need to be managed over time,” said Reuben.  “Geriatricians are trained to evaluate the range of factors that affect a person’s mental, physical and emotional health as they age, so we’re able to make individual recommendations to our patients regarding treatment, preventive health, medications and other issues that have an impact on health and well-being.”

Like pediatricians, geriatricians have specific skills that allow them to connect more effectively with the populations they treat. To that end, geriatricians are attentive to the issues of physical health in the context of social needs and supports.

They are also skilled at working with family members involved in an older patient’s care, something that is especially important if the patient is frail, sick or very old.  And geriatricians are adept at collaborating with other disciplines such as social work, physical therapy, pharmacy, psychiatry and nursing.

“A geriatrician is a physician dedicated to maximizing your health and well-being as you age,” said Reuben. “It’s a long-term partnership that is well worth considering.” — Newswise

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