What Does a Geriatric Specialist Do?

Some geriatric specialists work in physical therapy.
Geriatric specialists need good empathy and listening skills when interacting with elderly patients and their caregivers.
Geriatric specialists help the elderly to remain as active as possible.
Geriatric specialists might work in a medical setting.
A geriatric specialist will have knowledge about walkers and other equipment commonly used by elderly people.
A geriatric doctor must be familiar with legal topics such as advance directives, which specify how a patient would like to be treated in the event of incapacitation.
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  • Written By: Debra Durkee
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 17 June 2015
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A geriatric specialist has special training in dealing with the health and wellness of the elderly. This typically requires some form of medical training, with a concentration in the ailments and afflictions specific to an aging individual. Different areas can require the aid of a geriatric specialist, including nursing, home care, other medical professionals, and social work. Some of these individuals are also known as geriatricians.

Most geriatric specialists work in the medical field and are educated in working with the elderly. Many individuals have a background in another type of medicine, and continue on to specialize in geriatric medicine. With this specialized education, a geriatric specialist becomes familiar with the common ailments that impact the elderly as they age, and also becomes well versed in preventative measures and the capability an individual must have to follow an exercise or diet regimen. That knowledge allows these professionals to be able to recommend specialized care for an aging person.


Medical professionals who work with the elderly have much more information to work with than pediatric or general practitioners. A geriatric specialist is trained to look at a patient's entire history and can specialize in areas from preventative medicine to geriatric surgery. Some medical facilities employ a geriatric specialist in the anesthesiology department to handle the special needs of preparing an elderly individual for surgery. They may also work in fields such as orthopedics and gynecology, as elderly individuals have special needs that develop in all areas of medicine and health care.

A geriatric specialist can work in a clinical or medical setting, or work in home care, and there is wide variety in the daily tasks of these professionals. Home care workers allow the elderly to remain in their own homes with some degree of independence while still under the care of someone who can offer professional support. A geriatric specialist who performs home care work aids in basic tasks that become difficult as an individual ages and can include preparing meals and cleaning the house. More advanced levels of care are also performed, and can include keeping track of medications and assisting individuals with limited mobility and equipment such as dialysis machines or breathing apparatus.

Some geriatric specialists work in physical therapy. Going through a rehabilitation process with an elderly individual is much different than working with a young patient. A specialist is able to take into consideration the physical limitations of an older patient and understand potential problems and likely outcomes before they happen. He or she is also well versed in handling equipment more typically used by geriatric patients, such as walkers and wheelchairs. A geriatric specialist is trained in how to move and work with potentially delicate patients.


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