What does a Geriatric Specialist do?

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  • Written By: Debra Durkee
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 14 February 2020
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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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Post 1

This 85 year old lady has many sleepless nights and a few catnaps daily. She is relatively healthy and during the day she acts normal and speaks intelligently, but when she doesn't sleep during the night, she talks to herself, talks to the lamps on the end tables as if they were people.

When I'm up with her, after catching her "in the act,” she'll sometimes realize that she was doing something not right, but most times she continues to babble on about things that don't make sense. She took a half a cake, one night, placed it in a bowl and was at the stove getting ready to turn on the burner to cook the cake "because it

wasn't cooked enough!” She removes things from her purse and places them somewhere outside of her purse without remembering where she placed them the next day.

I am quite concerned for her well being and have not been able to get answers from her family doctor. She has been tested for early dementia and Alzheimer's and does not have either one.

Do you have any suggestions where or what to do next?

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