Senior Living Q & A: Finding the right doctor is important

Q. I just moved to this area and need to find new doctors. What is the best way to go about this?

Choosing a doctor is one of the most important things you will ever do in your life. You will trust this person for his/her expertise and advice, and to administer treatment that may save your life. That's why it's important to do as much research as you can to ensure that you find the right match. First, decide what type of primary care doctor you need. A primary care doctor is for everyday health problems like the flu.

General practitioner: Treats a wide range of medical problems in people of all ages.

Family practitioner: Similar to general practitioners, but has extra training to care for all family members, young or old.

Internal medicine: Doctors for adults. Some internists take additional training to become specialists. For example, a cardiologist is an internist who specializes in heart disease.

Geriatrician: Doctors who care for older adults. A geriatrician is trained in family practice or internal medicine and has additional training in caring for older people, just as a pediatrician specializes in caring for children.

Ask around. People who found their physicians through someone they trusted — friend, family member or another doctor — had the most favorable experiences.

Choose a hospital you like, and then use their physician finder to view a list of doctors who meet your search criteria.

Do a Google search with the physician's name or a more generic search, like “Glendale Doctor.” You can also read other patients' comments by visiting one of the many sites that allow for posting comments on physicians.

Don’t wait until you are sick to pick a doctor. Establish a patient-physician relationship now so that if you do have an unexpected injury or illness, you will have a partner in healthcare who can see you through the crisis. The American Medical Association's website has a “Physician Select” tool that allows you to search for information about the doctor.

Once you develop your list of potential doctors, call each one for more information. Some physicians even do interview appointments for prospective patients.

NANCY TURNEY received a bachelor's degree in social work and a certificate in gerontology. If you have a specific question you would like answered in this column, email it to or call Turney at the Crescenta-Cañada YMCA, (818) 790-0123, ext. 225.

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