Michelle Rupp: Joining me now is Dr. Jeanne Wei. She is the director of the Institute of Aging at UAMS. Doctor Wei, thank you so much for joining us today.
Dr. Jeanne Wei: Thank you, Michelle, I’m delighted to be here.
MR: It is a true pleasure. I’m excited about this topic because we’re talking about aging. My first question, I’m curious what is a geriatrician?
JW: Michelle? That is a great question. So, many people don’t realize there is such a person as a geriatrician until they really need someone. Of course, it’s better always to be early and to prepare. All of us if we’re lucky are going to be aging. Right? So, considering the alternative, it’s a pretty good deal. Okay, a geriatrician, there are different definitions for different people and different populations. But the fact is, geriatrics has now evolved into a subspecialty of either internal medicine or family medicine that, once you complete an internal medicine residency or family medicine residency, you can then go on to a fellowship in geriatric medicine and then you can be certified as a sub-specialist. That’s the accepted standard definition of a geriatrician. However, every single one of us has personal and professional experience with aging and with older persons, not only in our personal life in our community but also professionally. So, as long as somebody has the experience, the interest, and the expertise through experience taking care of older persons, I think they can qualify as a geriatrician, even if they don’t seek board certification. I’ve had many clinicians who have approached me about how to get certified and the problem is you have to have a 12-month fellowship. Many clinicians who are actively practicing just cannot get away for 12 months. So, even though they’re not geriatric subspecialty certified, I would certainly consider them as geriatricians.
MR: So, as we age, when is a good time for us to consider seeking the help, the advice, the counsel from a geriatrician.
JW: That is even a better question, which is “when should we start?” And here’s the answer. The secret is this, if you have older friends, or parents or a family member, encourage them maybe to go seek advice and you make sure you go with them because whatever advice they get, you’re going to now be on the end and you’re going to know how to continue to do well, stay healthy, and stay well because you know for most people now 60 is the new 40. I’m sure you’ve heard it and we want to keep that going. And soon we want 80 to be the new 50. It’s not impossible. We just have to prepare when you have to, you know, live healthfully. Those are the things that I think if we can try to adhere to at least a few of them, we will do better. We will keep healthy. And all of us, you know, when we get to be 80 it will probably be 45.
MR: I like that math. I like how you do that. That is good. Well, Dr. Wei, we could talk to you all day long and I hope that you will come back. You’ve got so much information that we’d love to be able to get out. Thank you for joining us today.