8 Tips for Choosing a Geriatrician

  • Senior woman shaking hand with doctor
    A Personal Decision
    If you’re 65 years or older, seeing a geriatrician will give you access to care designed to meet your unique health needs. Your geriatrician is your partner in health and is there to guide you through many decisions about protecting your physical and mental health as you age or treating a condition. How do you find the best geriatrician who is right for you? Here are some important factors to keep in mind.

  • Senior woman talking on phone
    1. Get Referrals
    Start with a referral list of potential geriatricians from your primary care doctor. Seeing a geriatrician doesn’t always mean that you must stop seeing your regular primary care doctor. You can also ask family, friends, and other healthcare providers for recommendations. Take the time to research the doctors’ credentials and experience on Healthgrades.com. To narrow down your list, call each office to make appointments to meet and interview the geriatricians.

  • Senior couple working on laptop
    2. Research the Geriatrician’s Credentials
    Board certification is one of the most important factors to consider when you are choosing a geriatrician. It tells you that the geriatrician has the necessary training, skills and experience to provide healthcare in geriatric medicine. Also confirm that the geriatrician has no history of malpractice claims or disciplinary actions. You can find the geriatrician’s medical school, training hospital, certifications, and malpractice and disciplinary history on Healthgrades.com and state websites.

  • Senior Male in doctors office
    3. Consider the Geriatrician’s Experience
    When elderly and facing a chronic or complex health issue, experience matters. The more experience a geriatrician has with a condition or procedure, the better your results are likely to be. Ask how many patients with your specific condition the geriatrician has treated. If you know you need a specific procedure, ask how many of the procedures the doctor has performed and find out about complication rates—complications the doctor has encountered as well as your own risk of complications.

  • Doctor explaining diagnosis to senior female patient
    4. Consider Gender
    It’s important to feel comfortable with your geriatrician’s gender because you will need to openly discuss personal information. When it comes to caring for your health as you age, your own gender is also an important consideration. Geriatricians are becoming more specialized in caring for elderly women and men differently. Ask the geriatrician about his or her recent training and experience specifically related to your condition and your gender.

  • Nurse holding elderly womens hand
    5. Research Hospital Quality
    Your doctor’s hospital is your hospital. For this reason, consider the quality of care at the hospital where the geriatrician can provide care. Hospital quality matters because patients at top-rated hospitals have fewer complications and better survival rates. Additionally, think about whether the hospital’s location is important to you. Should you need to go the hospital for tests or treatment, you want the location to encourage, rather than discourage timely care.

  • Doctor laughing with senior female patient
    6. Evaluate Communication Style
    Choose a geriatrician with whom you are comfortable talking and who supports your information needs. When you first meet the geriatrician, ask a question and notice how he or she responds. Does he or she welcome your questions and answer them in ways that you can understand? During the first visit did you feel rushed or engaged? Find a geriatrician who shows an interest in getting to know you, who will consider your treatment preferences, and who will respect your decision-making process.

  • Survey with computer mouse
    7. Read Patient Reviews
    Reading what other people have to say about a doctor can provide insight into how a doctor practices medicine, as well as how his or her medical practice is operated. Patient reviews typically reflect people's experience with scheduling appointments, wait times, office environment, and office staff friendliness. You can learn how well patients trust the doctor, how much time he or she spends with their patients, and how well he or she answers questions.

  • Approved Insurance Coverage
    8. Know What Your Insurance Covers
    Your insurance coverage is a practical matter. To receive the most insurance benefits and pay the least out-of-pocket for your care, you may need to choose a geriatrician who participates in Medicare, Medicaid, and supplementary insurance plans depending on your insurance coverage. You should still consider credentials, experience, outcomes, and hospital quality as you select a geriatrician from your plan.

8 Tips for Choosing a Geriatrician

About The Author

Sarah Lewis is a pharmacist and a medical writer with over 25 years of experience in various areas of pharmacy practice. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy degree from West Virginia University and a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. She completed Pharmacy Practice Residency training at the University of Pittsburgh/VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. 
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