After 65, protect your health with an aging expert
Written by Melissa Bean Sterzick
Geriatrics specialists focus on health promotion, disease prevention, and diagnosis and treatment of disease and disability in older adults. Dr. Lorena Layrisse Landaeta, a primary care physician and geriatrics specialist with the Torrance Memorial Physician Network, recommends older adults see a geriatrics specialist before they begin to suffer from the health issues that commonly affect older adults, including frailty, dementia, urinary incontinence, gait disturbances, sleep disturbances, depression, malnutrition and falls.
What is the direction of geriatric medicine?
Geriatric medicine specializes in the health of adults aged 65 and over. It focuses on the biological and psychosocial aspects of normal aging, the psychiatric impact of acute and chronic physical illnesses affecting the elderly, and the biological and psychosocial aspects of medical disorders beginning or continuing into old age.
When is the right time to consult a geriatric specialist?
Start seeing a geriatrician at age 65, even if you don’t have any of the common geriatric health conditions. It is important to get a full geriatric assessment and work with your primary care provider to prevent common age-related health issues.
What are the benefits of seeing a geriatrics specialist?
Seeing a geriatrics specialist is an opportunity to treat any geriatric syndromes that may be beginning to affect you. These conditions have a major impact on quality of life and disability. Geriatric conditions such as functional disorders, frailty and dementia are common and are often unrecognized or insufficiently cared for in older people. They are best identified by a geriatric assessment. Frailty is a geriatric syndrome of physiological decline that increases the need for full-time institutional care and increases the risk of hospitalizations, surgical complications, disability, and death. A geriatrician can work closely with you to treat or prevent the development of these conditions and help you live a long, happy, and healthy life.
What types of assessments and treatments does a geriatrics specialist provide?
They perform a comprehensive geriatric assessment that integrates medical, social, psychological, and functional domains with a particular focus on geriatric syndromes. They will recommend physical activity, healthy eating – especially the Mediterranean diet – memory exercises, sleep hygiene, and reducing polypharmacy (taking more medication than medically necessary) to prevent medication side effects.
Exercise habits often fluctuate as we age, but keeping your body moving is important for overall health as well as cardiovascular and mental health.
What specific health issues should seniors discuss with their geriatric specialist?
Specific health concerns seniors should discuss with their geriatrician include, but are not limited to, difficulty walking, insomnia, memory problems, falls, incontinence, advance care directives, polypharmacy, depression, caregiver burden and frailty. Part of the training of geriatric specialists is to meet the specific needs of patients who are in long-term care facilities, including assisted living facilities, residences for independent persons, retirement homes, palliative care and palliative care units.
How does specialized geriatric care affect the long-term health and quality of life of older adults?
Healthy aging is being able to do the things you want and enjoy life. We encourage physical activity and motivate patients to work hard to stay active. This is so important for maintaining strength, having more energy and improving balance to prevent falls. Geriatrics specialists work closely with older adults and their families to identify frailty and prevent its progression. We focus on quality of life by treating medication, nutrition and memory disorders early on. Our goal is to keep you independent and active without feeling tired or in pain all the time.