A word about the elderly

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 29, 2002

Staff report

The good news is, people are living longer. The even better news is that they can live longer and retain their quality of life.

That’s the goal of Jennifer Pagador, M.D., a family medicine specialist with Midwest Medical Group. To achieve that goal, she emphasizes preventive health measures to prevent chronic disabilities and diseases. That includes regular screenings, such as mammographies and gynecologic examinations, as well as immunizations, a healthy diet and a regular form of exercise.

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&uot;One strategy I use for keeping my elderly patients healthy is encouraging them to visit me every three to six months, whether they’re healthy at the time or not,&uot; said Dr. Pagador. &uot;We will address and treat chronic conditions, evaluate ongoing medications, and check for emotional disturbances and functional disabilities.&uot;

Dr. Pagador added that it’s also a good opportunity for some of these patients to get out and socialize a bit. &uot;A lot of times, they feel isolated… their friends are gone and they aren’t working. I try to reemphasize that they can still be productive citizens.&uot;

The doctor encourages many of her patients to volunteer. She explained that studies have shown that, if asked, four out of five senior will do volunteer.

Staying active can help seniors not only physically, but emotionally, Dr. Pagador continued. Depression, alcohol abuse, and neglect are not uncommon, especially if that person think that he or she has lost productivity as well as loved ones. Seniors often don’t volunteer than information, but the doctor makes it a point to try and find out and talk about these feelings with her patients.

Dr. Pagador also addresses end-of-life issues with her patients. &uot;It’s uncomfortable for them to talk about, but it’s a very important issue as you age,&uot; she explained. &uot;We discuss what the patient wants to do about cardiac life support and I encourage them to assign a durable power of attorney for health care when they have the mental capacity to do so.&uot;

When discussing senior care, Dr. Pagador said that it’s important not to overlook caregiver issues. She explained that sometimes caregivers get frustrated, especially if taking care of demented and challenging patients. &uot;We need to make sure that the caregivers aren’t forgetting about their own health.&uot;

For more information on senior health care issues, Dr. Pagador recommends outreach services, as offered by area agencies and councils on aging, as well as local community resources. If they use the Internet, she encourages them to bring their newfound information so they can discuss it with her.

&uot;There are a lot of resources out there with good health information for seniors.&uot;

Dr. Pagador is a family physician with Suffolk Primary Care PC at the Obici Medical Office Building, Suite 325. To make an appointment, call 923-9660.