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What is my dream?

Contributor: Valentina Ostapenko

Origin/Afiliation: Head of Geriatric Department of Russian Gerontology Clinical and Research center

Why did I choose geriatrics?

To begin with, I did not choose geriatrics. Even more, until a certain point in my life did not know about the existence of a geriatric doctor. When I was at a crossroads, I worked as a doctor - therapist, and I was thinking about changing my job. I was offered a career in the team of Olga N. Tkacheva*. I started reading, studying - it became interesting. Then there was an internship trip to Israel, Beer Sheva. We learned from Dr. Jan Press and his team of doctors, nurses, social work specialists, physiotherapists, speech therapists, nutritionists. All of them are very competent. Their work is well-coordinated. A lot of new information from different areas strengthened my desire to engage in geriatrics.

Upon returning home, the first consultations as a geriatrician began. It was a completely different view of the elderly person. Each is unique not only by a set of diseases but also by its character. If we add to this the family members who, willingly or unwittingly, become “accomplices” of the process, the whole story turns out. There were such extraordinary stories and, I hope, there will be many more.

What would you like? Have you looked into your passport?

I want our patients to hear such words as seldom as possible. What does a person want? I wish that an elderly person be able to be independent. That they can go to work, to the country house, to kindergarten to pick up grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They can read favorite books and hear the long-awaited words without asking again. That they can remember special moments and be in a good mood. That they feel the taste and smell of their favorite dishes.

What do I want?

I want to see more older people on the streets of our countries - in parks and shops, fitness clubs and restaurants. I like older people not to be left behind - families, health care systems, and life itself. Moreover, I want people not to be labeled based on their age alone. I want people not to be afraid of old age and start taking care of their health from a young age. I understood that doctors cure diseases, and staying healthy is the task of each of us, and this requires specific everyday actions.

I want young doctors to go to geriatrics with pleasure and at the call of their hearts - this is not a profession for everyone, just like medicine in general. This is the profession of our future. Whoever understands this, loves his job, and puts his head and heart in it will be doomed to success.

*Professor, President of the Russian Association of Gerontologists and Geriatricians, Director of the Russian Gerontology Clinical Research Center

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