Geriatric Health Care

What it is and who provides it

geriatric health care provider with older woman

As we age, our health needs change, which is why geriatric health care is an essential component of senior care. Geriatric health care focuses on addressing the unique health concerns and needs of older adults. This includes preventing and managing chronic diseases, promoting healthy aging, and improving quality of life. In this post, we’ll explore what geriatric health care is, and the different types of professionals who provide it.

What is Geriatric Health Care?

Geriatric health care is a specialized field of medicine that focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and management of health conditions commonly seen in older adults. It’s a holistic approach to care that accounts for not just physical health but also cognitive, emotional, and social well-being. Geriatric healthcare professionals work with older adults to promote healthy aging, prevent or manage chronic illnesses, and improve quality of life.

Who Provides Geriatric Health Care?

By its nature, geriatric healthcare is delivered with a team approach. Every individual has different needs and there is no one-size-fits-all formula for a care plan. A care team may include, but is not limited to the following:

  1. Geriatricians: Board-certified internists or family physicians who have additional training and certification in geriatrics. These are physicians who specialize in the care of older adults. They have advanced training in the management of complex medical issues that are more common in older adults, such as dementia, falls, and multiple chronic conditions.
  2. Gerontological nurse practitioners: advanced practice registered nurses with additional training to provide care to older adults who help patients manage the physical, mental, and social effects of aging.
  3. Physician Assistants: licensed medical professionals who practice medicine and prescribe medication as part of a healthcare team. Physician assistants work with physicians and other providers to assist in providing care.
  4. Geriatric psychiatrists: Psychiatrists who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions that are more common in older adults, such as depression, anxiety, and dementia-related behaviors.
  5. Consultant pharmacists: Pharmacists who specialize in the medication management of older adults, including identifying and preventing drug interactions and adverse effects.
  6. Social workers: Professionals help older adults and their families navigate the healthcare system, find resources, and connect with community services that can improve their quality of life.
  7. Physical and occupational therapists: Help older adults maintain and improve their mobility, balance, and daily living skills.
  8. Nutritionists: Help older adults manage their dietary needs, which can be complicated by chronic conditions and medication interactions.
  9. Speech and hearing specialists: Diagnose and treat communication and hearing problems that can be more common in older adults.
  10. Psychologists: Provide counseling and therapy to help older adults manage emotional and cognitive issues that can arise with aging.
  11. Geriatric psychiatrists: Have special training related to the mental health of older adults and help older adults with issues such as depression, anxiety, sleep problems, and issues surrounding grief and bereavement. Psychiatrists are medical doctors and can prescribe medications.

Where to Find Providers

If you’re looking for a geriatric health care provider, start by talking to your primary care physician. They can help you identify your specific health needs and refer you to a geriatric specialist if necessary. You can also search for geriatric care providers through the American Geriatrics Society’s Health in Aging Foundation or use the Medicare Physician Compare tool.

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Liz Craven
Author: Liz Craven

Liz Craven, along with her husband Wes, owns Pro-Ad Media, publisher of Sage Aging ElderCare Guide, serving the local community for over 28 years. Liz lives in Lakeland and is very active in the local community, specifically in the area of aging. Liz serves on a number of local boards and committees including the Lakeland Vision and Age Friendly Lakeland.