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Dr. Lynn Chrismer graduated from
The Ohio State University College
of Medicine and Public Health in
1975. He is Board Certifed in
Internal Medicine and Board Certifed
in Geriatrics. There are 5,000
geriatricians in the United States.
He is one of those rare specialists
and he practices at the Cleveland
Clinic Elyria Family Health & Surgery
Center. He is a member of the Medical Directors of Long
Term Care of America, Treasurer of Medical Directors
of Long Term Care of Ohio; a member of the American
Geriatrics Society; and Chairman of the Special Interest
Group for Long Term Care.
Just as there are cardiologists, who are specialists in
treating the heart, there are also specialists whose
expertise is treating conditions that occur during older age.
Too few know that such a specialist exists. A small number
of physicians go into the feld of geriatric medicine. There
are no geriatricians who practice in Erie County.
I interviewed Dr. Chrismer to enlighten our readers about
geriatric medicine. I asked Dr. Chrismer why someone
age 60 + would use a geriatrician? He explained, “If you
fnd that your health, or that of your older loved one, is not
doing well, geriatricians can provide a second opinion.
Principally, when they are taking many medications; or
experiencing memory changes, falling, bouts of confusion,
feeling anxious or depressed”.
“Some patients question what the difference is between
seeing a geriatrician versus a primary care physician.
The answer in short is that we are able to spend more
time looking into complex medical conditions and social
problems. We work with the older adult/patients to achieve
the best possible outcomes. We do a more thorough
assessment (a geriatric assessment takes an hour and
a half) and are more attuned to asking patients - “What
do you want out of your care? What is it that you value?
Do you value every second of life, regardless of your
functional ability? Or do you value high quality of life?”
“The good part about geriatric medicine is that making
some simple little changes can often improve an older
person’s ability to function and to live at home”. It is typical
for geriatricians to allow for a little more time for visits and
use cognitive screenings (“cognitive” means the ability
to process thoughts, to reason, make judgments) and
screenings for depression.
“As geriatricians we look very closely at the patient’s
medication list. We are good at identifying medication
changes that can improve daily functioning and treating
depression. I can’t say that we can always prevent
nursing home placement – depending the illness – but
our goal is to work with our older patients so they can
maintain their independence longer.”
“I am often asked by my patients – It’s just old age, isn’t
it?” I tell them, “With chronic disease, it’s more common
as you age, but it is
not caused by age
. For example,
degenerative arthritis is more common as you age, but
it is not caused by old age. There are still things we can
do to treat and manage the disease. Most of the time it
helps them live at home longer”.
To learn more about
Geriatric Medicine at Cleveland Clinic, you can call
Experts In Helping Older Adults Maintain their Independence
By Sue Daugherty
800-564-1856 419-624-1856