Three Reasons to Start Seeing a Geriatrician

Frequent falls, concerns about dementia and the need for guidance through the aging process are the top three reasons to see a geriatrician, according to Utah County’s first specialist in the field.

“Each geriatrician has their own area of focus – some stay in nursing homes and others only do consultation work. I plan to split my practice between seeing patients and doing consulting work,” said Erika Noonan, MD, who is now practicing geriatric medicine at the new Utah Valley Senior Clinic.

Older patients typically have been treated by a different physician for many years, and Dr. Noonan said they don’t need to switch providers. However, seniors and their loved ones may find value in seeing her for additional help with healthcare issues including:

  • Frequent falls: Hip fractures in older adults have a high mortality rate. Dr. Noonan said she can provide help getting to the bottom of why seniors are falling and then finding a way to prevent future falls. An evaluation of medications as well as the home environment can be very helpful.
  • Worry or concern about dementia: Dementia of any kind is not a diagnosis anyone wants to hear. But Dr. Noonan said it’s much better to know and then be able to plan and understand options. Ignoring the problem may seem easier, but that only leads to an eventual crisis.
  • Guidance through the aging process and its associated health issues: Family members of seniors often become overwhelmed with trying to manage all the needs of an aging loved one. Dr. Noonan said “aging in place” is what everyone wants, but it’s not always possible. A geriatrician can offer advice and resources to navigate the older years

“I have the luxury of time because of the way our clinic schedules visits. I know when a patient comes in, there will usually be several family members coming as well. It can take a really long time and I have that luxury,” said Dr. Noonan.

Anyone over age 80 should feel comfortable seeing a geriatrician as well as anyone in their 70s if they have multiple chronic conditions. Dr. Noonan can become a person’s primary care physician, but she looks forward to partnering with other doctors to provide additional help or a second opinion on a variety of healthcare challenges or care options.