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Senior Health (cont.)

Hospitalists and Gerontologists

Hospitalists are usually board certified internal medicine doctors who oversee the care of a majority of patients in hospitals on behalf of their regular physicians. As seniors make up a significant portion of hospitalized patients, hospitalists play a crucial role in the medical care of the elderly. Upon release form the hospital, the patient's medical care is transferred back to the primary care doctor. The transfer of care between hospitalists and primary care doctors is typically done by communication to exchange necessary medical information.

Even though this system may seem disjointed and inefficient at first, it carries some valuable benefits as well. Hospitalists are well trained in the care of hospitalized seniors and proficient in reducing potential risks related to hospitalization. Moreover, because they are physically present in the hospitals, hospitalists are more readily available to address urgent issues and to discuss the plan of care with patients and their families.

Gerontologists usually are not hospitalists but physicians that specialize in the problems (usually the chronic and difficult to treat diseases like Alzheimer's) that occur in seniors. They have special training in those changes that accompany aging and specialize in how to care for senior patients. Many seniors may benefit from the insights that gerontologists may provide to improve the lifestyle of the elderly patient.

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