CU Medicine Geriatric Medicine – Cherry Creek is now taking appointments from all members of the community 75 and older. Previously the clinic only served Kavod Senior Life Residents.
“The patient who will benefit most is the patient who is really complicated with multiple medical problems. Maybe some social stressors, maybe some cognitive or mood problems,” explained CU Medicine geriatrician Dr. Jeffrey Wallace. We spoke with him about the services the clinic provides.
Wallace said 80 to 90 percent of older patients will get the care they need from their primary care provider but geriatricians, like himself, handle more complicated cases that require more time and attention, “At a minimum our visits are 40 minutes and 60 minutes for new patients. We really have the time to sit down, discuss concerns, and often sort out what are complicated medical and psychosocial problems.”
In geriatric medicine it’s about providing care that can keep the patient independent and allow them to do the things they want to do, “The goal of care isn’t necessarily to bring your blood pressure down ten points, it’s to bring your blood pressure down so your kidneys, your brain, and your heart are happy so you maintain your function,” Wallace added.
The most common health issues among older adults include:
- Trouble with balance and falls
- Concerns about getting fractures
- If they haven’t had fractures – osteoporosis prevention
- Memory and mood problems
- Bladder and bowel continence challenges
- Polypharmacy – too many medications
- Nutrition and activity
When it comes to memory and cognitive function, the biggest risk factor is growing older but there are some things you have control over that could reduce your risk of conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Number one is physical activity, “Inactivity, lack of exercise has been shown to be associated with increased cognitive difficulties,” explained Wallace, “Studies show that walking or even some light weight training, a couple times a week have shown to positively impact the brain and cognitive function,” he added.
For families with older adults Wallace suggests supporting them as much as you can but don’t try to take over for them. The biggest goal should be to help them stay independent. Ask your family member if there’s anything they need, keep them engaged and connected with other family and their community.