The Aging Physician—Goodbye Dr. Welby!

12 Mar

Disrupted Physician


As a specialist in geriatric medicine  I have experience in taking care of a number of physicians who were referred to me for suspected cognitive decline. The first was a well-respected surgeon who was a pioneer in the development of his particular subspecialty and was still teaching and operating in his 70s.   Known for his breadth of knowledge about medical history and his sharp clinical acumen, he seemed to be slowing down.  Colleagues noticed he appeared fatigued and forgetful at times (not remembering his keys, having trouble finding the right word).  An internist colleague who knew him for 50 years curb-sided me and asked if I would see him.  He did not have a primary care physician or seen a doctor professionally in decades (a common phenomenon in this age cohort).

I met him the next week and he readily admitted to having difficulty concentrating and having trouble with his short term memory.  We reviewed his history…

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