Geriatrician vs. PCP: What’s the Difference?
MARCH 12, 2020
As a child, you likely saw a pediatrician for your healthcare. After all, infants and children have specialized needs that differ from those of adults.
On the other end of the spectrum, older adults often have different medical concerns than they had in their 40s or 50s, too. “The type of conditions we see and how those conditions interact with each other differs from what younger adults typically experience,” says BIDMC geriatrician Medha Munshi, MD. “Multiple medications may be required and managing all of this can become very stressful.”
Geriatricians are, in fact, primary care doctors (PCPs), but have additional specialized training in treating older patients. “We work alongside other specialists you might see, such as a cardiologist or neurologist,” Munshi says. “Like your PCP who treated you throughout your life, the role of the geriatrician is to coordinate your care so that we can establish shared-decision making. We help ensure treatment plans follow your individual preferences.”
A treatment plan, as Munshi explains, may extend well beyond disease management. “Older patients sometimes have social barriers, such as not having transportation to get to and from appointments, or emotional barriers, such as grief and isolation,” she says. “At BIDMC, we treat our patients holistically to ensure all social, physical and cognitive needs are met.”
A geriatrician can help:
- Manage and coordinate care for multiple medical conditions
- Treat conditions associated with aging such as dementia, incontinence or osteoporosis
- Manage multiple medications
- Refer specialty care for functional decline or physical frailty
BIDMC’s Senior Health team includes many providers with dual specialties – offering our patients further specialized care for a variety of health conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, falls, osteoporosis, palliative care and mental health. “We treat patients in outpatient clinic settings as well as in the hospital,” Munshi says. “Our goal is to make sure you’re receiving the best possible care, wherever you are.”
Learn more about Gerontology (Senior Health) at BIDMC.