the art of caring for your aging loved one

Geriatrician & Geriatric Psychiatrist

A specialist on Aging

The community nurse or the family doctor may refer Mum to a specialist—a geriatrician. He has a special interest in conditions related to aging. This doctor is trained to examine and make recommendations to appropriate authorities. He/she will conduct a Geriatric Assessment. This assessment involves reviewing current conditions and medications. A Geriatric Psychiatrist may become involved as necessary.

It is vital that you accompany your Aging Loved One to these appointments if at all possible. Take The File.

Questions or Concerns?

Write them down and save them for this assessment. You will assist the doctor by doing this.

Tactic: Write your questions or concerns on paper (keep it brief, point form) and put the paper in an envelope. Label it "Dr. J. Green. Private and Confidential. Please read before seeing Mrs. A. Capella." Discreetly give it to the office receptionist when you arrive for the appointment. It's a kind way of sharing information.

Be a Silent Observer

During the appointment, be a silent observer. Sit to the left or right of Mum and slightly behind, out of her direct line of vision. When she answers a question with a gross exaggeration or untruth, roll your eyes toward the doctor, or slowly shake your head. He will be watching for your reaction ... reading your face ... and may ask you for clarification.

You and your Aging Loved One may raise your eyebrows at each other, too.

Are you really being asked the same questions as the other consultants have asked?

Get used to it.

The System works this way.

It will happen over and over and over and over....

Keep it Light

Have a giggle in the car on the way home. "I wonder how many more times you will be asked if you've ever had a fall?" or whatever seemed repetitive and unimportant. It lightens the mood.

We need reminding that for some Aging Loved Ones their outings increasingly become visits to one doctor or another. How depressing must that be? Gentle, respectful humour will soften the blow.

The Geriatric Psychiatrist

"A psychiatrist is just a doctor who doctors you when your emotions hurt, Grandma," Eddie explained. "Everybody needs one sometimes." (from The Late Child, Larry McMurtry, Pocket Books, Simon & Schuster Inc., NY, 1995.)

You may notice that Oma appears to suffer from more than normal aging and loss of memory. You may become aware of distinct personality changes. Make a note in the observations section of The File. Notify members of the Telephone Tree. Speak to the family doctor.

Oma may have been mentally unstable for many years.

A psychiatrist who specializes in aging and mental disabilities could be the right person to see. The treatment may be as simple as a minor prescription change. The geriatrician and the geriatric psychiatrist will work together.

Rely on the Experts

You can't do this yourself. You must rely on the experts.

Don't leave any stone unturned in your search for what is best for your Aging Loved One.

A Giggle for you

A Final Diagnosis

Thought I'd let my doctor check me,
'Cause I didn't feel quite right. . .
All those aches and pains annoyed me
And I couldn't sleep at night.

He could find no real disorder
But he wouldn't let it rest.
What with Medicare and Blue Cross,
We would do a couple tests.

To the hospital he sent me
Though I didn't feel that bad.
He arranged for them to give me
Every test that could be had.

I was fluoroscoped and cystoscoped,
My aging frame displayed.
Stripped, on an ice cold table,
While my gizzards were x-rayed.

I was checked for worms and parasites,
For fungus and the crud,
While they pierced me with long needles
Taking samples of my blood.

Doctors came to check me over,
Probed and pushed and poked around,
And to make sure I was living
They then wired me for sound.

They have finally concluded,
Their results have filled a page.
What I have will someday kill me;
My affliction is old age.