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Geriatric Assessment: What Should I Expect?

People are living much longer now. Our average life expectancy has increased to 80 years, and the oldest living person is 115 years old! People are not only aiming to live a longer life, but also, more importantly, a physically and mentally healthy life. To help with that, geriatricians are specially-trained physicians who are experts in the physiological changes involved in the aging process, with the goal of providing better care to seniors aged 65 years and older.

A geriatric evaluation at Hoag Medical Group is conducted by a team involving a case manager, physician assistant, and geriatrician. They will meet with you and any family members, friends, or caregivers who may accompany you.

We will ask you and your guests to fill out questionnaires on your functional status, home equipment, support network, any living will/advanced directives you may have. We will also request records from any other outside providers you are seeing so that we can have a complete picture of your health.

In addition to performing a routine history and physical, our team will take time to listen to your stories and concerns, as well as gather data on your medical history, immunization status, quality of life, and general physical and mental wellbeing.

One important thing that our geriatricians focus on is a comprehensive review of your medications, with an interest in eliminating those medications that are unnecessary and maintaining the important medications at the lowest effective dosage in order to avoid interactions and side effects. It is for this reason that we request that you bring all medication bottles to your appointments, including any prescriptions, vitamins, and herbal remedies, as well as any over-the-counter medications.

Geriatricians are experts in evaluating and managing many common geriatric conditions, including:

  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Malnutrition
  • Dysphagia (swallowing problems)
  • Frequent infections
  • Decreased function
  • Urinary frequency and incontinence
  • Weakness and falls
  • Pressure ulcers
  • Osteoporosis (weak bones)

After a thorough evaluation, we develop an individualized care plan that takes into account both body and mind in order to maximize your independence and improve your quality of life.

Some Frequently Asked Questions that Geriatricians Receive:

What additional training is required for a geriatrician?

A geriatrician completes one to two years of geriatric fellowship training after finishing an Internal Medicine or Family Medicine residency program.

Who can be seen by a geriatrician?

Seniors aged 65 years and older are eligible for care by one of our geriatricians.

Do I have to change my primary care physician (PCP)?

You do not need to change your PCP if you do not wish to. Geriatrics is a specialty, just like cardiology or ophthalmology. We are able to see you as a consultant and coordinate with your PCP or other specialty physicians. We will send you back to your PCP after your conditions are managed and your functions have been maximized. However, if you desire, our geriatricians would be honored to also serve as your PCP.

How do you assess dementia?

Dementia is an age-related illness. Because we are living longer, more people are experiencing memory problems that impair functionality and result in decreased quality of life and increased burden to the family unit. Thanks to new treatment interventions, if dementia can be diagnosed early and interventions started as soon as possible, we can increase the chances that you will remain mentally independent for the rest of your life. To formally assess dementia, we use the Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) testing tool as recommended by the Orange County Vital Aging program. It is easy to use and more patient-friendly than traditional neuropsychiatry testing, in addition to having more accurate results than other testing modules. There is no age limitation for the MCI test. If you or your family is concerned about your memory, please call us to schedule testing at your earliest convenience.

Meet the Author

Hong Shune, M.D.

Specialty: Internal Medicine and Geriatrics
Areas of Interest: Healthy Living and Senior Health

Dr. Shune, who grew up in China, is passionate about treating aging patients, who she believes need to be treated as a special group, with an emphasis on quality of life, lifestyle education, and comprehensive evaluations. She practices at the Hoag Medical Group location in Irvine on Sand Canyon Avenue. View Bio [+]