Pop quiz: Can you define geriatrics? And did you know that it’s not just for the “old-old”?
If you hesitated with these two questions, don’t feel bad. Most people know that geriatrics has something to do with the elderly, but beyond that there’s a lot of confusion about what it is, who it can help, and how it’s different from gerontology.
To clear up the confusion and help all seniors — whether younger or older — understand how to benefit from geriatrics, I’ve written an article for NextAvenue.org:
In this article, I explain:
- What is geriatrics
- Why geriatrics, similar to pediatrics, involves a medical knowledge base along with an approach that’s better for certain age groups
- What is a geriatrician
- What is gerontology, and how it’s different from geriatrics
- Why you do need geriatrics but probably don’t need a geriatrician
Why We Should All Understand What Geriatrics Is
I wrote this article because geriatrics has wonderful things to offer when it comes to the health of older adults, just as pediatrics offers wonderful benefits to children. (Kids need healthcare that’s adapted to their growing minds and bodies. Older adults need healthcare that’s adapted to their aging bodies and minds.)
Unfortunately, although everyone knows what pediatrics is, and almost everyone who wants to can get care directly from a pediatrician, geriatrics is in a different position.
People often don’t realize that geriatrics is a medical specialty, and that a whole knowledge base about modifying healthcare for older adults exists.
This is a huge problem given that our population is aging.
And then even if people do learn about geriatrics, they are often unable to find a geriatrician.
Now, it’s too bad we have a shortage of geriatricians, but that doesn’t mean we can’t leverage geriatrics to help as many older adults as possible.
We can do it if everyone involved in the care of older adults learns to apply some of what geriatricians know.
Don’t assume geriatrics is just for the very old; avoiding risky medications that increase dementia risk is something to start doing in your sixties!
Don’t think that only geriatricians can deliver geriatrics care; we can all get better at connecting seniors with healthcare that’s adapted to aging minds and bodies.
It’s the only way we can help a growing senior population have the best health and wellbeing possible.