Doctors Caring for the Elderly: Three Gerontologists in Raleigh

Can’t remember what you ate for breakfast and it’s only nine am. Even if you don’t experience this, millions of aging Americans do. If you have the luck to be aging, which means yours still alive, at some point your body will start to fail you one piece at a time.

If we have the grace to live long enough we will experience the joys of old age side by side with the bane of a long life.

We can’t swing the grand kids over our head without risking a major surgery. Carrying out the trash is a Real pain in the back. And our young whippersnapper doctor hasn’t got the foggiest what is ailing us. They just can’t wait for us to leave. Why didn’t we just take the meds we were given last time? And we won’t tell them what is wrong no matter how many questions they ask.

Boy! Do they get upset with us when we won’t do exactly what they tell us! They really get mad when we share our pills with our dog. Didn’t they ever learn to share?

And their always in such a hurry! Don’t they want to hear all about little Albert. Their not very friendly people!

Yes getting on in years can mean that you have outgrown your family doctor and their teeny bopper nurses. You need someone who isn’t in such a hurry. Someone who cares about you and wants to know what you think. Who doesn’t wince or make a snide remark every time you ask a question. Even if it the question asked might not be the first time or the second, third or fourth time they have heard it.

In addition your kids have been reading that older people suffer differently from younger people and doctors who don’t take this into account are likely to come up with an incorrect diagnosis.

We personally experienced this with my mother. Her (family) doctor diagnosed her with a heart condition based on symptoms that might have indicated that. In the process the doctor prescribed drugs that would have been appropriate, if she had the condition diagnosed. If she were fifty at the time, the doctor might have been right.

Problem is that at nearly eighty she didn’t have the heart condition the doctor diagnosed. She had the symptoms. She was short of breath, she felt dizzy, her chest hurt; all possible symptoms. For three years she took pills she didn’t need and that were not doing anything for her under his care. The doctor was not negligent, just ignorant.

Like many physicians in general practice the doctor failed to take several factors into consideration based on her age and nearly resulted in killing her.

For many of the aging, just remembering correctly makes a big difference. Family physicians often rely on the patient providing reasonably accurate feed back.

Gerontologists recognize that Alzheimer’s, Dementia and confusion are part of the elderly person’s life.

When we brought mom to the gerontologist the first thing he did was make sure every complaint that could be serious to her health was checked by a specialist.

The heart specialist gave mom a clean bill of health. Her heart did have a deformed shape that could provide false readings depending where the electrodes were attached. But a sonogram showed that it was just the shape and size of her heart muscle. With the elderly he always wants more than just the electrical readout.

The next thing the gerontologist was take the symptoms seriously. If her heart and lungs were in great shape it made sense she should not be short of breath. Something had to be constricting her wind pipe. So he ordered up some x-rays. He wasn’t sure what he was seeing; he knew that this was something bizarre. He needed another specialist.

He sent her to a thyroid specialist. Turns out he had seen this before. Usually if you have a growing thyroid you’ll see a swelling around the neck and it will show up on the blood test. The blood tests did show some slight degree of extra hormones but not enough to be a concern.

But the thyroid was growing very fast and was strangling her windpipe. It had already reduced her ability to take in air by a significant degree. At the rate it was growing it wouldn’t be long before she would literally strangle to death. Worse both doctors agreed that she was not a good candidate for surgery.

Fortunately they can insert a little radioactive isotope which will kill the offending thyroid. It only took a few weeks for the radioactivity to do the thyroid in. Within a few months she was breathing normally for a young chick of eighty.

If you are in excellent health and have not yet started down the other side of memory lane, your family doctor may still be able to provide great care. If you, your spouse or your parents don’t are having difficulty getting care from their doctor due to memory or the fast pace of the doctor here are a few suggested gerontologists in Raleigh.

Martin Janis used to be connected to Duke Gerontology but prefers spending more time with patients than group practice allows. He can be located at:

Martin Janis, MD
3362 Six Forks Road
Raleigh, NC 27609
(919) 782-7576

Gregory Bugai is a doctor in the Duke Seniors practice. He can be reached at:
Gregory Michael Bugaj, MD
7091 Harps Mill Road #500
Raleigh, NC 27615
(919) 844 – 0008
Another doctor who specializes in serving seniors is Iftequar Ahmed. He can be contacted at:

Iftequar Ahmed, MD
3126 Blue Ridge Rd, Suite 113
Raleigh, NC 27612-8060
(919) 789-0891

Thanks to good care at the hands of a skilled gerontologist, my mother is living a higher quality of life. She still doesn’t remember what she ate five minutes ago. She still shares her food with the dogs. Though we personally monitor her pills, the dogs have their own. All because in Raleigh there are a few well trained doctors who really care about helping the aging do so gracefully.

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