Primary care physicians are important because they act as gatekeepers for all your continuing healthcare needs from childhood to old age. A primary care physician typically acts as the first contact and main point of continuing care for patients, often coordinating any specialist care that you may need in your healthcare journey. Primary care includes counseling, diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic illnesses in a variety of health care settings (e.g., office, inpatient, critical care, long-term care, home care, day care, etc.), health promotion, disease prevention, health maintenance, patient education. Primary care physicians typically specialize in family medicine and may include non-physician providers such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
As your first point of care, primary care is essential for better health outcomes, reduced health costs and healthier families. Primary care coordinates treatment across health settings and providers and is believed to be the cornerstone for healthy communities. Primary care addresses all the factors that contribute to your health and wellness, including behavioral health, women’s health, specialty care and community resources. It improves outcomes and community health and includes a strong foundation of patient-centered care.
There are many causes and contributing factors to high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. Among them are excessive sodium (salt) in your diet, aging, a poor diet rich in fatty, salty or sugary foods, sleep apnea that causes reduced oxygen levels during sleep, obesity or overweight, a sedentary lifestyle or lack of exercise, alcohol and drug use, smoking, some hormonal conditions, kidney disease, nutrient deficiencies in your diet, diabetes, stress, thyroid problems and the side effects of certain medications.
Internal medicine focuses on diagnosing and preventing illnesses and treating adults of all ages, Internal medicine specialists are also called internists, and may further specialize in cardiovascular disease, diabetes and metabolic disorders, gastroenterology (digestive problems), hematology (blood disorders), infectious diseases, nephrology (kidney disease), oncology (cancer), pulmonary diseases (lung problems) and rheumatology (joint and musculoskeletal problems).
Geriatric care focuses on health care for people who are 65 or older. It aims to promote health by preventing and treating diseases and disabilities that are common in older adults. Geriatric specialists are concerned with common aging problems such as immobility, stability, incontinence and impaired memory or intellect. Geriatric doctors or geriatricians can diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions and diseases that affect aging adults, helping them improve their quality of life and maintain their independence.
Elderly patients typically do better when they can be cared for at home where everything is familiar to them. Look for providers of home visits and telehealth providers. Coordinate care services with everyone from your primary care provider to that person who visits once a week to clean the house. Encourage the patient to make his/her own decisions about the care they receive as well as when and where they receive it. Include the patient in family social activities to help avoid the feelings of isolation older patients often feel. Create a safe environment for the patient to mitigate the risks of injury or harm. Find the best insurance options for your situation and stay abreast of the latest technology, which can improve all aspects of care.
The main difference is that family care focuses on the entire family including children while internal medicine focuses on caring for adults, much the same way as a pediatrician focuses on caring only for children. Outside of patient ages treated, there is a great deal of overlap between internal medicine and family practice. Internal medicine may include significant training and experience in subspecialties such as endocrinology, rheumatology, infectious diseases and neurology. Internists also typically gain experience in dermatology, ophthalmology, office gynecology, nonsurgical orthopedics, sleep medicine, geriatrics, and rehabilitation medicine. Family practice tends to be broader than internal medicine because it includes training to care for children, along with procedures and services that are often provided by other medical specialties.
If you are an adult, you should see an internist when you need a doctor who specializes in internal organs such as the heart, kidneys, liver and lungs. Internists typically help manage diseases of these and other bodily organs and are acutely aware of how these organs interact with each other. The internist’s role is often referred to as the gatekeeper, because he/she can treat the patient’s body systems and manage chronic illnesses such as diabetes or hypertension. When disease processes become advanced, your internist will also consult with other medical specialists as needed. Many patients of internists tend to be in the geriatric population because they suffer with chronic conditions including diabetes, COPD, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease, kidney and endocrine issues, blood disorders and even infectious diseases.
Typically, adults older than 65 years will seek geriatric care for the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions associated with aging. A geriatrician can be helpful if you suffer from multiple medical conditions, find that treatment for one medical condition negatively affects a second condition, are experiencing functional decline or physical frailty, have a disease associated with aging (e.g., dementia, incontinence or osteoporosis), or manage multiple medications (which may cause side effects that affect your well-being. Another benefit: geriatricians usually schedule longer appointments to ensure that older adults have enough time to discuss all of their medical concerns.
Since 1980, Norwood Medical Associates has provided comprehensive health services to residents in Dedham, Needham, Norwood, Sharon, Stoughton, Walpole, Westwood, Wrentham, MA and neighboring towns. Make us your number-one choice for all your internal medicine needs. Give us a call at 781.769.3113 or fill out our Request an Appointment form to arrange your one-on-one consultation with a primary care doctor (internist).