Unfortunately, the outlook for seniors in this country as it relates to medical care continues to circle the drain. Fewer med students are pursuing geriatrics as a subspecialty, and the geriatricians who still practice in this country cater only to those clients who are willing to pay. The fiscal aspects of this problem are easy enough to identify, but what can seniors do when they’re looking for geriatricians and primary care doctors?
1- Start at the Source
Geriatricians who specialize in care for seniors are certified by one of two organizations. The American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) and the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) both certify geriatricians, and this might be the best place to start for seniors who need primary care doctors. It is often difficult to locate practitioners when you’re looking through your Medicare paperwork, so starting at the source will give you a boost in the right direction.
2- Look Before Age 65
It is also a good idea for people to start looking for geriatricians before they become seniors. Often, these primary care doctors practice geriatrics in addition to general care, and they will continue to see patients who rely on Medicare once they’ve entered the “senior” stage of life. Unfortunately, it is increasingly difficult for seniors to find geriatricians when they have already passed their 65th birthday because primary care doctors don’t see it as a fiscal benefit.
3- Choose Residences Wisely
Although it might seem silly to choose a residence based on the availability of primary care doctors, this is an increasingly popular alternative for seniors who are having trouble finding geriatricians. For example, there are far more doctors with geriatrics specialties in Texas, Florida and South Carolina than there are in, for example, Idaho. This might be a good time to decide where you want to retire, and how the decision will impact your health.
4- Get Ready to Pay
Unfortunately, you might have to pay out-of-pocket to find a geriatrician to serve as your primary care doctor. Seniors have become something of a casualty in health-care reform and health standards in this country, and many doctors charge “administrative fees” for seniors who are on Medicare. If you want to go to a good doctor, you might be forced to cough up these fees just to maintain your level of health care.
Seniors who are in need of a geriatrician shouldn’t stop their search for the right doctor. Whether you’re 55 or 85, you have the right to solid healthcare, and you shouldn’t settle for a primary care doctor who has no experience in geriatrics. In many cases, it is simply a matter of finding a physician who doesn’t mind spending an extra thirty minutes per visit to diagnose and treat common maladies for seniors, so invest the time to find the right doctor.