Mistake #7:  Not Having a Single Primary Care Physician to Oversee All Treatment

The Problem:

Fragmentation of health care and conflicting medications are problems that can be avoided by having a primary care physician to oversee all treatment.  If patients see a number of different specialists, they may prescribe treatment for one condition that complicates another condition.  For example, patients on glaucoma medication should not take certain drugs that might be prescribed by an allergist.  And a patient with dizziness should avoid certain drugs that might lower blood pressure and make him dizzier and increase his risk of falling.

The Solution:

Seniors should find a primary care physician-an internal medicine specialist, geriatric specialist, or family physician-with interest and expertise in caring for older adults.  The primary physician should coordinate all referrals to specialists.  This will enable one doctor to maintain the “big picture” of the person as a whole instead of having many doctors who look only at one problem or organ system.  Seniors who need help finding a good primary care specialist can seek advice of a geriatric care manager with knowledge of skilled geriatric doctors in their community.