Geriatricians, also called as geriatric physicians, are medical doctors who specialize in diagnosing, treating and preventing diseases, disorders, and injuries in older adults. They serve as primary care doctors for aging patients, receiving specialized training in the process.
Geriatrician job description
Aging causes the body to change. The elderly starts to suffer from acute and chronic health conditions that call for more complex medical care. In the US alone, over 10,000 people turn 65 every day. More than 50% of the adults at 65 years or older suffer from at least three medical problems, such as arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and/or Alzheimer’s.
With the help of a geriatrician, the elderly get the osteopathic or allopathic care that they need. Geriatricians are trained to assess and manage the unique needs and treatment preferences of the elderly. They focus more on improving the functional ability and the quality of life of their older patients. They also decide when seniors are no longer allowed to live alone to avoid medical hazards and advise them on appropriate living arrangements. Geriatricians also advise patients and their families about end of life care.
Geriatricians spend a huge chunk of their time dealing with the conditions and diseases caused by old age. Among the common conditions that they treat and manage are Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss, arthritis, lung disease, chronic heart disease, osteoporosis, incontinence, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and hearing and vision problems. They especially focus on managing patients who have to take a lot of medications. Geriatricians even create drug regimens to prevent negative drug interactions.
If they notice symptoms of serious diseases, such as cancer or neurological problems, they refer their patients to other specialists or work as a part of an interdisciplinary team to provide comprehensive geriatric care. Geriatricians may collaborate with other professionals, whose jobs include caring for senior patients. The team might be composed of geriatricians, geriatric nurses, physical therapists, geriatric pharmacists, mental health professionals, and occupational therapists.
Since many senior citizens have to take a long list of medications daily, it is the responsibility of a geriatrician to monitor how these drugs affect the patients. They also look at the risks and benefits of a treatment plan to decide whether it is worth recommending to the patients or not.
It is a huge part of their job to closely monitor the physical and mental functioning of the patients. They usually advise the patients to stop driving or to move to a supportive living facility. It is their job to talk to the patients and their families about hospice care, long-term care, and more.
Geriatrician work environment
Geriatricians are often employed in residential facilities designed with the elderly in mind. They may also find work in nursing homes and hospitals, while some may start their own private practice. Like any other doctors, a geriatrician has to endure long, irregular hours of at least 50 or so a week. Their job is quite stressful because they have to be prepared around-the-clock.