As we age, we are at risk for development of a variety of medical problems.
Our senior loved ones may already have multiple medical issues and could be at risk for more.
They want medical care that is thorough and consistent, seeking expert advice to prevent worsening medical issues.
Family caregivers hope that their senior’s medical team is taking the time needed to diagnose and manage disease.
5 Ms Of Geriatric Care
Your senior’s healthcare team members who are trained in geriatric medicine are focused on five areas.
They treat older adults with an individualized approach to meet their needs.
The five focus areas (source HealthinAging.org) are:
- Maintaining mental activity
- Helping manage dementia
- Helping treat and prevent delirium
- Working to evaluate and treat
- Maintaining the ability to walk and/or maintain balance
- Preventing falls and other types of common injuries
- Reducing polypharmacy (the medical term for taking several medications)
- De-prescribing (the opportunity to stop unnecessary medications)
- Prescribing treatments exactly for an older person’s needs
- Helping build awareness of harmful medication effects
- Helping older adults manage a variety of health conditions
- Assessing living conditions when they are impacted by age, health conditions, and social concerns
- Coordinating advance care planning
- Helping manage goals of care
- Making sure that a person’s individual, personally meaningful health outcomes, goals, and care preferences are reflected in treatment plans
Getting Focused Healthcare for Your Senior
Doesn’t that plan look like it would be very beneficial for you and your senior loved one?
In reality, does your current healthcare team practice this type of geriatric care?
We hope everyone who treats a senior would look at them with these 5 areas of focus but likely not as many are trained in this type of care and treatment as we would like.
We know that there is a shortage of geriatricians who specialize in treating older adults. In fact, in 2013 there were estimates that 17,000 more were needed to meet the demands of aging adults.
Family caregivers can:
- Ask the healthcare team if they have been trained as geriatric practitioners and if they follow these 5 areas of focus when treating your senior loved one.
- Ask to what other members of the team they will refer you such as speech therapists for swallowing difficulties, registered dietitians for eating issues, psychologist for depression, care managers or social workers to help get services, pharmacists for concerns of polypharmacy, elder law attorneys to execute advance directives or end of life options, and others who can help fill gaps in care services. The doctor doesn’t have to do it all, but should be able to connect you with appropriate experts to help you.
- Have your questions ready, be prepared ahead of time so you get what you need during a visit without wasting valuable time. Doing a little homework ahead of time through observation and understanding your senior’s needs now and in the near future will help you get the help you need.
- Take notes during healthcare visits so you don’t have to back track to get information already provided and so that you can follow-up with all the team’s suggestions. Having notes will make it easier to share the information with other family caregivers or paid caregivers.
- Don’t give up! You know your senior loved one best and what would be best for them. Continue to seek the answers you need. Get information from other caregivers through support groups as well as learning all you can about whatever issues your senior has such as dementia or other disease processes.
As family caregivers, we want our senior loved ones to get the person-centered care they need from their healthcare team. With these actions, we can do our part to help them get that care.