Top Doctors 2011 Profile: Craig Moss, M.D., Geriatric Medicine in Kingston
Maintaining a healthy mind and body as you age
Photograph by Michael Polito
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When Craig Moss, M.D. was a college student majoring in social psychology, he did a research paper on geriatrics. Back then, studying the elderly was a bit unusual. “At the time, there was a lot of ageism. Being old was not considered a good thing,” he recalls.
Moss studied positive models of aging — folks older than 65 who stayed active and said they were happy with their lives. “It turned out that people who did something besides just their occupation tended to age well. For instance, if you’re a truck driver and you also like to play the fiddle, you have a rewarding activity to fall back on when you retire.”
That early research piqued his interest, and Moss opted for a career in medicine, specializing in geriatrics, or aging. He received his degree at New York Medical College, did his residency at Hartford Hospital, then went on to UCLA to complete a fellowship in geriatrics.
Moss moved back to the Hudson Valley in 1984 — his late father had been an internist in the area. He and his wife, fellow physician Dr. Debra Karnasiewicz, M.D. (who is board certified in internal medicine), then launched a medical office which has since grown into an eight-physician practice. Known as Medical Associates of the Hudson Valley, the practice is located in Kingston.
Moss — who is board certified in internal medicine and geriatrics, and is director of MAHV — says working with the elderly is a complex medical field.
“Part of the challenge is in just determining what normal aging is. Take dementia, which is rather prevalent in our society. One in eight people over the age of 65 will develop dementia in the U.S., versus one in 100 in northern India; about 45 percent of people in the U.S. older than 85 will develop dementia. This high incidence in the U.S. is in part due to our life style. So, the question is — is dementia considered a part of normal aging, or not?”
And unlike diseases such as diabetes, where a simple test can often pinpoint the condition, Moss says there’s no universal method to determine whether, for instance, it’s just a common cognitive slip when a person frequently forgets where they put the car keys, or if this might, in some cases, signal the early stages of more serious memory loss.
“Also, we sometimes deal with patients who are on eight or 10 different medications — we might be able to eliminate some of the meds; some you can’t. In addition, social and family dynamics play a role with how people deal with aging.”
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