The Geriatrician wrapped up my mother’s first consultation with him by asking me, “So, when would you like the next appointment?”
I thought quickly. He was a very busy Consultant and only took on Mom’s case after some urging by his colleague. That day at the clinic, we had waited over an hour to be seen as he had many patients and was running late. So I said, “I think six months should be alright.”
“Six months?!” he laughed and turned to Mom, “Aunty, I will see you again in six months, and I hope I don’t have to see you sooner than that!”. So he thought I was being a bit too optimistic, but he went along with me, and said we could call for an earlier appointment when needed.
For the past few months, Mom had been seeing 4 different specialists for the various medical ailments she had. Although dementia can be overwhelming on its own, people with dementia can and do have other medical problems. The only reason Mom wasn’t seeing 5 specialists instead of 4 is because the appointment for the 5th was overshadowed by emergent events and nobody remembered to put it back.
Each of the 4 specialists were intent on treating their own organ issues, without seeing Mom as a whole. For example, two specialists wanted Mom on anticoagulants, a third wanted it stopped. At times, I went a bit nuts. Particularly at the junior doctors when they call me to let me know what was happening. You want to what? For what? Can you call the other specialist and make sure he is okay with that?
So that is why we added a Geriatrician to the mix – someone who can see Mom as a whole, review what’s best for her overall and help us decide which medical ailments get priority. We need an orchestra conductor instead of multiple soloists each playing their own tune.