Family physician cites optimism on the future of seniors’ care
A few patients of Sidney Feldman, MD, CCFP, FCFP, thought he would get a kick out of seeing four generations of their family at four consecutive appointments. So in they came to his office with the North York Health Team, starting with a woman in her 90s down to the new baby in the family — great-grandmother, grandmother, mother and infant daughter.
“I am very fortunate to take care of generations in a family — three or four generations is not uncommon,” says the family physician and medical director of the Apotex Centre, Jewish Home for the Aged at Baycrest Health Sciences. “There is something very special about that.”
About 70 per cent of Dr. Feldman’s patients are seniors — an area of practice he finds very rewarding.
“I love it,” he says. “There’s such joy and meaning. You get to bear witness to these extraordinary lives. It’s a real honour and a privilege.”
Asked about myths around seniors’ health care, Dr. Feldman cites many. For example, that all older adults are frail or that they expect too much from doctors.
“Some people also think that interventions with older adults don’t work, so why bother trying. We have very good research to show that’s not the case,” he says.
Dr. Feldman aims to help his senior patients have as much joy and fulfillment in their daily lives as possible. For him, quality health care for seniors means an increased focus on patient values and what they want from their later years.
“I try to be as respectful as a can. And it’s important to focus on function. What do they want to be able to do?”
Seniors’ care also means taking an inter-professional lens to medical practice and working with both the patient and the family.
“It’s not just one-on-one care,” he says. “Many of these patients have multiple chronic conditions, social challenges and maybe cognitive decline.”
Despite the challenges of an aging society, Dr. Feldman has a very positive outlook on the future of seniors’ health care. He says today’s medical students are well aware of the demographic changes and how it will impact their careers. Geriatric interest groups at medical schools across the country point to this recognition and to the interest students have in quality care for seniors.
“I’m actually optimistic that when I’m older we’ll have even more great doctors with a passion for taking care of older adults. I think there is no better job, to be honest with you.”