A physician who specializes in the care of older people – what kind of doctor are they?
As we age, our bodies may require more specialized medical attention. That’s where a physician specializing in caring for older people comes in.
These doctors have the expertise to address the unique health concerns of the elderly, from chronic illnesses to age-related cognitive decline. Let’s learn more about what they do and how they can help seniors live their best lives.
What Is a Physician Who Specializes in the Care of Older People Called?
A physician who specializes in the care of older people is called a geriatrician.
Geriatricians are doctors who have completed additional training in caring for older adults, typically 65 and over. They are experts in managing complex medical problems that often occur in older adults, including chronic diseases, dementia, and functional decline.
Understanding the most common geriatric conditions can help individuals and their families better prepare for the changes that come with aging.
Geriatricians work closely with other healthcare professionals, such as nurses, social workers, physical therapists, and psychiatrists, to provide comprehensive and personalized care to their patients. In this way, they can help improve the quality of life for older adults and their families.
What Is Geriatrics?
Geriatrics is a medical field that specializes in the care of older adults. It’s a branch of medicine that focuses on the unique health concerns of older people, such as age-related diseases, cognitive impairment, and mobility issues. Geriatricians, who are medical doctors that specialize in geriatrics, work to prevent, diagnose, and treat health problems that are common in older adults. They also help older adults manage chronic conditions and maintain their overall health and quality of life. Geriatrics is an important field because as the population ages, there is an increasing need for specialized care for older adults.
What Age Is Geriatric Patient?
Geriatric patients are typically considered to be older adults 65 years and older. However, it is important to note that age alone does not determine whether a person is a geriatric patient. The aging process can affect people differently, and factors such as overall health, medical history, and functional status are also taken into account when determining whether a person falls under the geriatric category. For more detailed information, you can refer to this article about at what age should you see a geriatrician. Ultimately, geriatric care aims to provide specialized medical attention and support to help older adults maintain their health and independence as they age.
What Does a Geriatric Doctor Do?
A geriatric doctor, also known as a geriatrician, specializes in caring for older adults.
Here are some of the things a geriatric doctor may do:
- Comprehensive assessments: Geriatricians thoroughly assess their patients, considering their medical history, cognitive function, social support, and other health factors.
- Management of chronic conditions: Older adults often have multiple chronic conditions that require careful management. Geriatricians work to help patients control conditions like hypertension, diabetes, and arthritis.
- Medication management: Geriatricians carefully evaluate medications to ensure patients are not prescribed drugs that may harm them. They also help manage medication regimens to ensure patients take them as prescribed.
- Prevention and screening: Geriatricians help prevent illnesses and complications by screening patients for conditions like cancer, osteoporosis, and dementia.
- Care coordination: Geriatricians work closely with other healthcare providers to coordinate patient care. They may also work with social workers, physical therapists, and other healthcare professionals to ensure their patients receive their needed support.
Overall, geriatricians focus on helping older adults maintain their health, independence, and quality of life.
How to Be a Geriatric Doctor
Becoming a geriatric doctor requires several steps, including a passion for working with older adults and a desire to help improve their health and quality of life. Here are some ways to become a geriatric doctor:
- Complete a bachelor’s degree: This is typically a four-year program that provides a solid foundation in the sciences and other subjects.
- Attend medical school: After completing a bachelor’s degree, aspiring geriatric doctors must attend medical school, which usually takes four years.
- Complete a fellowship in geriatric medicine: After completing their residency, doctors can choose to complete a one- to two-year fellowship in geriatric medicine to gain specialized training in caring for older adults.
- Complete a residency in internal medicine: After medical school, doctors must complete a three-year residency program in internal medicine.
- Obtain board certification: After training, doctors can become board-certified in geriatric medicine by passing an American Board of Internal Medicine exam.
- Continue to learn and grow: Geriatric medicine is an ever-evolving field, so geriatric doctors need to continue learning and keeping up with new developments in the field. There are many resources, such as The American Geriatrics Society and The National Institute on Aging, that offer invaluable information and opportunities for continuing education.
Overall, becoming a geriatric doctor takes a lot of dedication and hard work. Still, it can be a rewarding career for those passionate about helping older adults live healthy and fulfilling lives.
Geriatric Doctor Salary
The average salary for a geriatric doctor in the United States ranges from around $170,000 to $240,000 per year, depending on factors such as location, experience, and specialty. Geriatric doctors who work in hospitals or healthcare systems generally earn higher salaries than those in private practices or non-profit organizations. Additionally, geriatric doctors who are board-certified or have advanced training in geriatric care may earn higher salaries than those without these credentials.
What Is a Gerontologist?
A gerontologist is a specialist who studies aging and the effects it has on individuals and society as a whole. Gerontology is a multidisciplinary field, drawing from disciplines such as medicine, psychology, sociology, biology, and more. Gerontologists work to understand the physical, psychological, and social aspects of aging and how they impact individuals and communities.
Gerontologists may work in various settings, including research, education, and healthcare. They may research the aging process, develop programs to improve the quality of life for older adults and work with healthcare providers to improve the care of older patients. They may also provide counseling and support services to older adults and their families.
In contrast to geriatricians, who specialize in the medical care of older adults, gerontologists take a broader, more holistic approach to aging, examining physical health and social, psychological, and environmental factors that can affect well-being. Gerontologists often collaborate with other healthcare providers, including geriatricians, to provide comprehensive care for older adults.
What Is the Difference Between a Gerontologist and a Geriatrician?
While gerontologists and geriatricians specialize in the care of older people, the two professions have some key differences.
- Focus: Geriatricians are medical doctors focusing on older adults’ physical and mental health. On the other hand, Gerontologists are social scientists who study aging from various perspectives, including sociology, psychology, and public health.
- Education: Geriatricians must complete medical school and a residency in internal medicine or family medicine, followed by a fellowship in geriatric medicine. Gerontologists typically have a master’s or doctoral degree in gerontology or a related field.
- Practice: Geriatricians work directly with older patients, providing medical care and managing chronic conditions. Gerontologists often work in research or academia, studying aging and its effects on individuals and society as a whole.
- Scope: Geriatricians primarily focus on medical issues related to aging, such as managing chronic illnesses and prescribing medications. Gerontologists take a broader view of aging, examining social, economic, and public health issues that affect older adults.
In summary, geriatricians are medical doctors who provide direct care to older patients, while gerontologists study aging from various perspectives and often work in research or academia.
How Do Gerontologists Work Together With Geriatricians?
Gerontologists and geriatricians are two specialties that work together to provide comprehensive care to older adults.
A gerontologist studies the biological, social, and psychological aspects of aging, while a geriatrician is a physician who specializes in the care of older people.
Together, these professionals work to provide a holistic approach to aging. Gerontologists may work alongside geriatricians to help them understand the social and psychological factors affecting an older adult’s health. They may also conduct research studies to help improve the quality of life for older adults.
Geriatricians, on the other hand, rely on the expertise of gerontologists to help them understand the unique needs of older adults. Geriatricians may refer their patients to gerontologists for additional support, such as counseling and social services.
Both gerontologists and geriatricians work to provide older adults with the best possible care. Collaborating and sharing their knowledge can help older adults live healthier, more fulfilling lives.
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