Hitting your stride after 55 is something Marshall Health physicians really focus on in their interactions with patients.

This concept of preventive care goes beyond the traditional
doctor-patient relationship. It’s an approach that emphasizes
independence, restoring function, and improving quality of life for older adults by maximizing medical and preventive care, eliminating unnecessary medication, and increasing activity.

“Hiking the trails at Pipestem or biking the Hatfield-McCoy Trail is certainly a picturesque way to spend your golden years, and we want our patients to be able to enjoy those experiences with their kids and grandkids,” says Robert Walker, M.D., a primary care physician at Marshall Health who has been caring for West Virginians for more than four decades. Walker’s
clinic, known as the Center for Healthy Aging, is housed within Marshall Family Medicine as an outpatient department of Cabell Huntington Hospital and sees patients in Barboursville and Hamlin. The Center largely serves the 80 and older group, offering primary care, specialty geriatric consultations, screenings for dementia, and in-depth geriatric assessments as needed.

For many seniors, improving quality of life also means reducing chronic pain. In 2017, double-board certified interventional pain management physician and anesthesiologist Joseph M. DeLapa II, M.D., brought his
expertise to Marshall Health in order to establish the Marshall Senior Pain and Wellness Center. “Senior citizens are one of the fastest-growing populations in our region and, unfortunately, chronic pain from the back and joints can diminish an otherwise enjoyable lifestyle,” DeLapa said.

The Center emphasizes preventive medicine and focuses on restoring function in senior adults coping with conditions such as chronic back pain, arthritis pain, degenerative disc disease, degenerative joint disease, and sciatica. A variety of treatment options are available at the center, including epidural steroid injections, facet nerve blocks, radiofrequency ablation, joint injections, trigger point injections, spinal cord stimulation, and more.

At the Center for Healthy Aging, Geriatrician
Robert Walker seeks to improve the quality
life, restore the function, and promote
the independence of his patients.

Another option for senior care at Marshall Health is the Hanshaw Geriatric Center, which offers specialized primary care and on-site specialty consultations, lab work, and x-rays. In addition to three physicians—Drs.
Lynne Goebel, Pavithra Indramohan, and Rajesh Gopalarathinam—the care team at this multispecialty clinic also includes a social worker, a geriatrics nurse, geriatric wellness visits and home visits by Physician Assistant Angela Brammel, memory evaluations, and a unique driving assessment clinic. And for frail and homebound patients, Dr. Cindy Pinson, Dr. Ambryan White, and their team of nurse practitioners provide home care medicine, the modern-day version of physician house calls.

In addition to physical health, geriatric psychiatry emphasizes the importance of mental health as we age and what may or may not be
just a part of getting older. Fellowship-trained geriatric psychiatrists are experienced in caring for patients 65 and older facing memory issues, dementia, and a variety of other behavioral and psychiatric conditions. At the Susan Edwards Drake Memory Clinic, senior adults who are exhibiting memory problems can receive comprehensive evaluations, which can provide the tools needed to face the problem.

This comprehensive approach to senior care is grounded in academic medicine. As part of the faculty practice arm of Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, resident physicians and fellows team with Marshall Health clinicians in caring for senior adult patients throughout southern West Virginia. This summer, Marshall will welcome its first
cohort of fellows in both geriatric medicine and geriatric psychiatry. These post-residency programs give physicians specialized training in care for senior adults in very specific ways to help care for West Virginia’s aging population.

Getting older may be a fact of life; however, with the right treatment and support from their primary care providers and specialists, many older patients can make strides to continue the activities they enjoy most in their golden years.

posted on May 1, 2020

written by Sheanna M. Spence

images courtesy of Marshall Health; Shutterstock

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