A geriatrician is a physician who is specifically trained to deal with the health needs of the elderly. As we age, the number of chronic medical problems we face tends to increase. There may be one or several conditions present at the same time. As the number of chronic medical conditions increases, so will the number of medications required to treat them. At the same time the body’s ability to handle medications decreases with age. A further complication is that medicines may interact in ways that compromise their effectiveness. Geriatric training emphasizes the risks and potential for adverse reactions associated with the use of the multiple medications specific to the elderly. With each new patient I see, we review the medical history and, after a full physical exam, we consider how best to proceed. The difference between a general internist and a geriatrician is the additional care taken with the investigation of cognitive function, gait and balance disorder, as well as the psychological and social problems that often arise in the elderly population. Care is taken to involve the family, as well as the patient, in all discussions. The stronger the support system, and the better all are informed, the better the outcome. The goal is to help each patient maintain a safe and healthy independence.

Article provided by Dr. Stern, Geriatrician