Working with elderly patients is challenging and rewarding. As we get older, we get more diseases. The most common are heart disease, cancer, stroke, lung disease and infections such as pneumonia. “Normal” aging, in the absence of specific diseases, can be challenging as well. At age 60, many experience noticeable loss of memory. Deterioration in physical function begins earlier in life. Often times, the challenge is in differentiating between normal aging and early disease.
There are many other issues that have to be addressed as one ages: loss of loved ones, inability to care for one’s self or loved ones, and end of life decisions. Many difficult questions arise that need to be addressed: When should my parents or I quit driving? How can I get more help in my home? What are my options if I become unable to care for my loved one or myself? How do I deal with loss of strength, memory or bodily function? How do I make decisions about end of life care? We aim to educate patients about what is to be expected with aging and illness and what the options are for care so that each person, along with input from loved ones, can make informed decisions.
At Total Health Physician Group we enjoy helping and treating patients as they age. Even helping patients through the dying process is rewarding. The older a person gets the easier it is to discuss death. We should not wait until we are 102 years old (like my oldest patient) before we discuss and make plans for death. Examples include: living wills, power of attorney for health care, life insurance, nursing home insurance etc. We can help with these decisions.