For years, medical communities focused on treating ailments instead of patients. While diagnosing and treating diseases and conditions are essential, doctors are beginning to believe that having an understanding of their patients’ experiences is another essential piece of the healthcare puzzle.
At UC San Diego, medical students are getting a taste of what it’s like to be a senior in their classes. Students were fitted with thick gloves and glasses that obscured their vision. They were then told to sort M&Ms into jars by color. The students were meant to learn just how difficult even menial tasks can be when our bodies age.
The point of the exercise? To make sure the next generation of doctors, which will have a booming senior population to see, consider how medical conditions can change an older person’s daily life, and what treatments will allow them to live a better life. Students are learning to see the person, as well as the condition they’re treating.
“We have to make sure that our students are prepared to take care of the kind of patients that are more and more common, patients with long medical histories and long medication lists,” explained Dr. Zaldy Tan.
How does this medical school practice effect you? It shows a shift in the medical community. Doctors are learning to consider the patient as a whole and not just look at the conditions that need to be treated. As America ages, the medical community will have to adjust to its new senior population.
Seniors should look for doctors who specialize in geriatric medicine and be sure to carefully vet their doctors. If you feel a doctor isn’t responding to your concerns and needs, it’s time to look for a doctor who does.