Dr. Erika M. Noonan’s routine never gets old — but her patients do. As a geriatrician, Dr. Noonan’s job is to help her patients age gracefully and healthily. She considers her patients to be the kindest and most genuine demographic.
Her daily conversations focus on fall prevention, expectations about death, assisted living centers and eliminating medications.
“I’m extremely open with my patients about what we can foresee in the future,” she says. “For example, if they’ve been in the hospital numerous times, we talk about it. It all comes back to communicating openly and making sure I’m telling patients all their options and letting the patient and their family guide their care.”
Team effort “At my clinic, we all support each other. My patients know my nurses and my staff. It feels silly to think of me individually as one of Utah Valley Magazine’s top doctors, when really it’s my team. Some of my patients really come to see my nurse, not even to see me.”
Dealing with death “In our clinic, we always talk about any patient who passes away. We always read their obituary. Often we learn more about them. Everybody in my clinic knows many of our patients will pass away, but we are hopefully helping that be a more peaceful and dignified process and have provided support to the patient and family throughout.”
Family ties “One of the reasons I say I’m a totally spoiled geriatrician is because most of my patients have a lot of family support — which isn’t common outside of Utah — as well as neighbors. I’ve had some patients with a neighbor who checks on them every single day. The neighbors and sense of community around here really spoils me in my specialty.”
Mental health “Depression is a huge deal in our aging patients, but it often manifests a little differently. Clearly, they have a lot of life changes that no one really plans for. You don’t plan for when your spouse dies. You don’t plan for when you lose your driver’s license. You don’t plan for when you can’t live independently anymore. That affects people’s mood, depression and anxiety. We’re trying to make those transitions as smooth as possible and provide support.”