Dr. Srinivasan Raghavan evaluates Neri Prichard during a 'get up and go' timed test, one of several methods used to assess a person's ability to remain independent. A smiling Neri passes with flying colors.
Aging successfully begins with a three-pronged approach to health.
MEDICAL What medical conditions need to be treated or monitored regularly? What screenings should be done and at what age? What vaccines should I get? Am I eating and sleeping well? Can I hear or see adequately?
FUNCTIONAL Can I safely move about my community and home? Do I have bright lighting and nightlights in my home? Are safety bars installed in the bathroom? Are rugs non-slip? Do I have an emergency list of contacts close by?
PSYCHO-SOCIAL Am I happy, sad, lonely? Am I often confused or forgetful? Can I keep track of my medications?
Get Ready for the "BOOM" Geriatric Specialists Can Help
2011 marks the first year that an estimated 77 million baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964 start reaching full retirement age. It’s estimated that by 2012, one in eight Americans will be age 65+.
The challenge is to keep aging adults healthy and independent for as long as possible. While annual medical exams are strongly encouraged for all adults, they are critical as we age.
“Aging adults have special needs,” says boardcertified geriatrician Srinivasan Raghavan, MD. “But by making adjustments and tapping into community resources, the majority can live at home even after age 80, especially if they recognize when they need support from others.”
Normal signs of aging often include decreases in mobility, hearing and vision.
“Keep in mind that something physical can trigger a psychological response, which we can identify during an exam,” adds Dr. Raghavan. “Poor vision, for example, may make someone less likely to leave their home, causing depression and loneliness. Depression can falsely mimic early dementia. As geriatricians, we have to look at all aspects of a person’s well-being.”
Warning signs that may trigger a more serious discussion about independence include chronic forgetfulness, a lack of personal or home cleanliness, and increased confusion about medications and life skills.
“Going to an assisted living or long-term care facilityis a last resort,” says Dr. Raghavan. “I have many patients who remain in their own homes their entire lives. It’s about understanding the aging process, recognizing when you need support from others including your physician or geriatrician, and finding the resources necessary to keep you independent.”
For information, please call our Health Access Line at 314-ANTHONY (268-4669) or 800-554-9550 or visit find a physician online.
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