Local doctor practices time-tested approach to geriatrics
Recently, I was able to interview Dr. Timothy Scharold, an "old-fashioned doctor" with offices on Hilton Head Island and in Bluffton.
Dr. Scharold's passion is taking care of aging bodies of folks who are young at heart. Here are my questions and his answers.
Q: As an internist, you decided to specialize in geriatric care. How did that happen?
A: My father was a physician. I grew up going to the hospital, nursing homes and patients' homes as I child. I just assumed it was a routine thing all doctors did.
I saw the good he did and was inspired to follow suit.
When I completed my training, and was finally ready to go into practice, he was ready to retire, getting tired of the legal and insurance interference with old-fashioned medicine.
So, I took his practice on. Turned out it was mostly 65-plus folks, who needed more delicate care.
I found them very appreciative, with fascinating life experiences to share. I developed a natural skill at caring for older folks and became board certified in the new specialty of geriatrics.
Q: Why are you making home visits when no one else does?
A: Medicare years ago was not reimbursing well for hospital care, home visits or preventative health.
To Medicare's credit, they have found it better for doctors and other health care givers to see patients in their homes and have seen the benefit of prevention practices that can keep them healthy and out of the hospitals.
Q: What sort of prevention is recommended for folks as they get older?
A: Geriatricians now look at a number of important factors that put one's health at risk, with some more critical as they age.
One very important emphasis is minimizing medication problems.
Older folks are much more sensitive to medications and their effects. In many cases, they can benefit in a reduction of the pills they needed previously or outright discontinuation.
This is done through a careful review of medications and making sure they need the medication with no side effects occurring.
Other factors are assessing how one is functioning, getting around, dealing with pain, exercising and eating.
Q: You've written a book, "Legitimate Diet." Does it cover how eating affects aging?
A: Yes, throughout out the book I explain how diet affects one's health and aging, at any age.
What we put in our mouths is one thing we can control that does affect how our body ages.
The same healthy diet we should all be eating is all the more important as we get older.
Poor diets are well known to cause different illnesses that age our bodies all the more, such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, loss of memory, etc.
If I can convince my patients to replace one unhealthy item with a healthy one and keep them consistently walking, I feel I can accomplish more than writing more medications for them.
Joe Agee is the marketing and sales director for The Seabrook of Hilton Head. www.TheSeabrook.com