While primary care physicians and other general practitioners are well-loved members of your medical team, it is wise to choose a doctor with a senior speciality as you begin to age past 55. Geriatricians, or doctors who specialize in senior care and issues, are an important part of healthy aging. These doctors see only aging adults and have an acute understanding of the aging process and conditions that may arise. Geriatricians can recognize medication complications and are aware of preventative care screenings and recommendations for aging adults; more so, typically, than a primary care doctor.
Choosing a Geriatrician to guide you through your senior years is a good decision. However, how can you choose one that is right for you? Here are a few things to consider when starting your decision process.
Look at your network
Start with your health insurance to be sure that the Geriatricians you are looking at are covered in your network. Whether you are using private insurance or Medicare, don’t start looking at Geriatricians until you know if they are in your network. Once you know which doctors are covered, you can start narrowing them down.
Look at your neighborhood
Choose a doctor that is relatively close to your home. While you won’t be seeing your Geriatrician every week, you will be headed to the office for regular and follow up appointments. Chances are, you don’t want to be traipsing across town every time you need to go for a visit. Plan accordingly.
Look at transportation services
If you don’t drive, or plan on stopping in the near future, find out what options you have for transportation to the Geriatrician office. Is the office near a public bus stop or train station? These are good questions to consider before choosing a doctor.
Look at your friends
Recommendations can speak volumes, especially if they are coming from people that you trust. Ask your friends and other professionals that you trust for their thoughts on local Geriatricians that you are considering.
Look at the doctor
Make an appointment with the Geriatrician you are considering, making sure to note that you are a new patient. While you are at the appointment, note the friendliness and helpfulness of the office staff, if you are waiting for an extended period after your appointment time, if the Geriatrician seems engaged and experienced. Your initial appointment can assist you in making a choice that you are confident in.
Look at the office locations
Check to see if the Geriatrician you are considering follows patients at your preferred hospital or long term care facility. Some Geriatricians even do onsite visits and clinics at senior centers, senior living communities, or perform house calls. It is nice to know where you can catch your Geriatrician, should the need ever arise.
While this list is intended to just get you started with your decision, be sure that you do your due diligence before making your final choice. Ideally, this doctor will be the person that gets to know you, guides your family, and acts as a point person between other medical specialities as you age. Good luck!