It was back in the 1990s that I first became aware of the importance of geriatrics, when I learned about the incredible growth we would see in the number of older adults in the population. As pointed out by the authors of this edition of FP Essentials, within the next few years, one in five Americans will be older than 65 years. These older adults have higher rates of medical problems than younger people, so they will be increasingly overrepresented among the patients family physicians will see in their practices. This coming change prompted me to earn a Certificate of Added Qualifications in Geriatric Medicine.
Over the next several decades, family physicians likely will spend much of their practice time caring for aging baby boomers, and we all will have a lot to learn to ensure that we do a good job. A core issue is how to properly evaluate older adult patients to keep them healthy and functional. This edition of FP Essentials provides detailed information about caring for older adult patients.
Section One provides information about performing a Welcome to Medicare visit and Annual Wellness Visits. It discusses not only the details of medical care provided during these visits, but also how to document and bill for them. Section Two explains how to perform a comprehensive geriatric assessment, an evaluation that can be useful when there are concerns about the overall functional status of an older adult. Section Three discusses how to evaluate and manage mobility issues to decrease the risk of falls. Section Four is about options for older adults when they can no longer live at home alone—a tough problem that I know about personally, as I had this situation arise with my mother.
All of this information should be applicable to everyday practice as we care for the increasing number of older adult patients that we will be seeing. I hope that you will find the content as interesting and useful as I did.
Barry D Weiss, MD, FAAFP, Medical Editor
Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine
University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson