The Quest for Age-Friendly Health Care
If your young child suddenly developed an illness, who would you call? It’s a no-brainer; many parents have the number programmed on their phone for the pediatrician they have meticulously selected to manage the health care needs of their children. Due to their specialized training, working with a trustworthy pediatrician ensures the best possible care.
Likewise, selecting a health care provider for senior loved ones who specializes in senior medical care needs is just as essential. Yet sadly, the health care system in general has not placed a great emphasis on the distinct health care needs of seniors. Dr. Carla Perissinotto, geriatrician and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, explains her alarm over this age-related health care gap, and how little professors in med school are focused on elder care.
In fact, reflecting on her own residency, she shares, “We literally did the same thing for forty-year-olds as we did for eighty-year-olds, and we’d treat all eighty-year-olds the same whether they’re dependent or independent, have limited life expectancy or complete life expectancy, and that just didn’t sit well with me.”
Fortunately, there is a new move to provide medical students with further geriatric training, such as an emphasis on a holistic strategy to senior care – looking at the body as a whole. It’s very important for seniors to have a reliable geriatrician who's able to manage and piece together the results of the often multiple specialists a senior patient sees. In fact, providing additional instruction for anyone who comes in contact with older adults in a medical setting – from hospital receptionists to EMTs and triage workers to doctors and nurses – is essential to overcome ageism and make certain seniors receive the level of care they need and deserve.
In addition, older adults and their family caregivers might want to investigate the services of a geriatrician as their primary care physician. Not to be mistaken for gerontologists, who specialize in aging-related matters but are not medical doctors, geriatricians are board-certified physicians who have finished a fellowship in geriatric medicine and have passed the Geriatric Medicine Certification Exam.
There are approximately 300 geriatricians across Canada. They recommend evaluating prospective geriatricians by asking the following types of questions:
What training and certification have you received?
Do you accept my insurance coverage?
Will you work with all of my healthcare team?
How is communication handled – texts about prescription refills, email appointment reminders, etc.?
What is your guiding philosophy?
Visit the geriatrician for an introductory consultation, and assess additional details such as:
Is the office easy to access?
Is there lots of parking?
Is the staff courteous and respectful?
Does the geriatrician speak directly to the senior?
Do questions receive comprehensive answers?
Make note of your gut feelings. If any warning signs are noted, you may want to consider searching further to ensure the geriatrician selected is an individual you and the senior loved one are fully comfortable with.
At The Care Company, experts at in-home care for seniors in Toronto and surrounding communities, our staff is thoroughly trained in providing compassionate, specialized care for seniors within the comfort of home. Contact us online or call us any time at (416) 422-2273 for assistance or for more information about our personalized in-home care services for seniors in Toronto and nearby areas.