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Senior Health

Communication and Geriatric specialists

11/27/2000

Question:

My mother was in the hospital for a few weeks last year. She was 70 and had many health problems. We met many doctors while she was in the hospital. She had here general practitioner, a kidney specialist, a surgeon, a doctor who specialized in prescription medicine and one who was monitoring her resperatory condition. My family had a difficult time keeping up with all the information that was given. We also ended up telling some doctors what other doctors had done. There seemed to be a big lack of communication between then. So, my question is, is there a type of doctor that communicates with the families and the doctors and manages the overall care of the patient? Is there some kind of geriatric specialist or other specialist that we can hire that will help us? My uncle is in the hospital now and is in serious condition. My sister was asking the nurse some questions about his condition and the nurse was both condescending and abrupt with her answers. Who helps the patient`s families and the patient with these situations?

Answer:

You may want to consider having your mother evaluated by a geriatrician. Each evaluation is tailored to the specific needs of the older adults. The medical assessment includes a comprehensive physical examination by a geriatrician and other appropriate specialists and an evaluation by a geriatric social worker or nurse. Because these assessments are so thorough, they require a minimum of three hours. The geriatric team uses this time to evaluate as well as put together a comprehensive medical picture so that a realistic plan of care can be developed. All information is shared with the older adult and his or her family as well as the person`s private physician. If needed, referrals can be made to a private physician who has special experience in taking care of older adults.

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Response by:

Elizabeth Joyner Gothelf, BSN, MAG Elizabeth Joyner Gothelf, BSN, MAG
Assistant Director
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati