Choosing the Right Primary Care Doctor that Specializes in Senior Care
By CarePatrol of the Inland Empire
Finding the right primary care doctor for your senior loved one can be overwhelming. Further complicating the search can be the recent diagnosis of diabetes, Alzheimer’s or heart disease.
Seniors often leave their doctor's appointment dissatisfied because their doctor attributes every change in their health as “you're just getting older”. Seniors worry, “is it really my old age that’s causing my ailment or is it that my doctor is missing something”. Maybe a doctor who specializes in treating and caring for seniors is better suited in caring for your loved one. To help your search go smoothly, I’ve listed some suggestions for you to consider.
Suggestions for Choosing the Right Doctor for Your Loved One
• Review their health insurance: A good place to start is by reviewing your family member's insurance plan or any secondary insurance plan they may have. Find a geriatrician or internalist that’s in their network. When you find one, call and make sure they are accepting new patients and if they accept medicare.
• Talk to other seniors: Recommendations from other seniors are comforting to those that are seeking new physicians. Ask your friends, colleagues who have older parents, who their doctor is. Ask them does their doctor really seem to understand seniors and their needs. Is he/she have the patience or always in a hurry.
• Associations with Hospitals: Although some doctors still do, fewer and fewer primary care physicians are following their patients into the hospital. When considering a physician see what hospital they are affiliated with and if it’s in your loved one’s network.
• Online Physician review sites: Not many people take the time to rate physicians, so physician review sites are not as robust or plentiful as other types of services. Unfortunately, this leads to a few ratings, and the information in the review is slim. However, going online can provide some information. These two sites may be helpful in your research: Health Grades and Vitals.
•Location, Location, Location: Unlike young adults, older adults have a tendency to visit their doctor more often. Many seniors still drive themselves, so limiting the distance they have to drive to their physician, is a big factor. Find a doctor close by, easy to get to and parking that is accessible must be considered.
House Calls: Your parents may remember when the family doctor made house calls. Today, this has become an ever-increasing popular alternative for seniors, physicians that make house calls. Your primary care physician and their staff come to the older adult’s home for routine wellness visits or when the senior isn’t feeling well. Many doctors will even bring specialize equipment, such as e-ray machines, lab techs.
•Seeing your Doctor over the Internet: Gaining popularity with seniors are primary care physicians who offer a service called virtual office visit. Seniors connect with their doctor via a video chat link. Online they can talk face to face for such simple things as a sinus infection or a cold. This eliminates the senior from having to visit the doctor’s office, where they may actually catch something much more serious.
Now that you have done your research and found a physician that meets your loved one's needs (at least on paper), it’s time to take your search to the next step, schedule an in-person visit. Many insurance companies and Medicare will pay for one wellness visit per year. Use this visit to assess the physician to see if she/he is what you're looking for.