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As you age you need to be more proactive and attentive to regular medical care. As your body changes, so do your medical needs. You are more susceptible to disease and illness and may have to monitor medication more closely. This means you may have to see regular physicians as well as specialists. Here is a basic list of doctors you should probably include in your general health care.
A primary care doctor, also called a general practitioner, treats your common conditions like colds and minor infections. They can also serve as a home base for your medical care. These doctors will send you to specialists if needed and collect all your data in one place for future reference.
Some primary care doctors specialize in geriatric medicine and focus on senior care.
A dermatologist specializes in the treatment of skin, hair, and nails and can conduct an annual full-body skin check to detect skin cancer and monitor suspicious mole and other skin abnormalities.
Dentists treat any problems with your teeth, gums, mouth, and tissues. They also provide guidance to prevent potential oral and dental health issues. See a dentist to have your teeth cleaned twice a year. Besides fixing cavities, dentists can address other teeth problems like sensitivity and weakness. Your dentist will also assess and fit you for dentures, and adjust and replace them as needed.
Both optometrists and ophthalmologists specialize in the treatment of eyes and problems affecting the eyes. Optometrists work in vision care and prescribe corrective glasses and lenses. They can also test for declining eyesight and possible eye diseases like glaucoma. Ophthalmologists, on the other hand, are physicians who diagnose and perform eye surgery and treat eye diseases and injuries. Your optometrist will refer you.
Urologists specialize in the medicine of male and female urinary tracts, as well as the male reproductive system. They can help monitor and correct urinary tract infections, which are common in the older population, along with other issues related to urination and bladder control. They can also help men with erectile dysfunction and prostate health.
A gynecologist specializes in caring for and treating diseases of the female reproductive organs. They are the doctor who performs Pap smears and regular pelvic exams. Older women still need a yearly Pap smear and pelvic exam. Even though you are past menopause, you are still at risk for cervical or vaginal cancer. If you are sexually active you may contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD) and need treatment.
Written by: the Healthline Editorial Team
Medically reviewed on: Nov 25, 2014: Brenda B. Spriggs, MD, MPH, FACP
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