What Does 'Geriatric' Mean, and What Is Geriatric Care?

Female geriatrics doctor wearing face mask meets in her office with senior patient.Long-term care options for seniors are always evolving. One possible next step for you or your loved one may be geriatric care.

You may wonder what geriatric care means or what type of treatments it typically entails. Is it any different from the arrangements you have previously made for an aging family member? Keep reading to learn about geriatric care and the growing need for these services across the United States.

What Is ‘Geriatrics’?

Geriatrics is a medical specialty dedicated to the care of aging people. Most people over 75 tend to need skilled care focused on the challenges seniors begin to face as they age. However, not everyone will necessiarly need to seek geriatric care. 

The need for this type of care will grow in the future. According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2030, everyone in the Baby Boomer generation will be age 65 or older. With the expected increase in need, it is important for seniors and their caregivers to learn more about this type of care.

Common Medical Problems Older Adults Face

Older people tend to need more substantial medical care than other populations. They are more likely to suffer from chronic health conditions. Certain medications may also cause negative reactions in their bodies. Geriatric physicians, or geriatricians, receive special training to meet the health needs of older adults.

Common medical issues that affect seniors may include the following:

  • Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease
  • Increased risk of falls
  • Delirium
  • Increased confusion and agitation
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Heart disease
  • Gradual or acute loss of mental capacity
  • Other chronic illnesses

How Do Seniors Benefit From Geriatric Care?

Geriatric care may aid in allowing seniors to receive necessary medical care while remaining in their communities. They can build a health care team that addresses each of their needs. Doctors specializing in this field do not replace primary care physicians. As patients age, a primary care doctor works with the geriatrics physician to address any underlying conditions and create a treatment plan.

Having a strong health care team working for them allows seniors to live healthier and more independent lives. Adding a geriatrics physician to your loved one’s health care team may improve their quality of life.

Some of the benefits of geriatric care include:

  • More accurate diagnoses
  • Decreased dependence on nursing home care
  • Improved quality of life
  • Improved cognition and mental function
  • Lowered rates of depressive episodes

How Can a Geriatric Care Manager Help Caregivers?

You may be struggling to provide care for aging loved ones. Perhaps you live in another state, have a full-time job, or have serious health conditions of your own.

Geriatric care managers may be able to offer support. These professionals act as advocates for your aging family members. They tend to have formal education and experience in disciplines like nursing, gerontology, health care administration, or social work.

Usually, they serve families whose incomes are too high to qualify for Medicaid coverage or other government assistance.

Geriatric care managers provide some of the following services:

  • Assisting with long-term care arrangements
  • Communicating with out-of-state family members about their loved one’s condition and care plan
  • Explaining complexities of long-term care to seniors
  • Evaluating and coordinating hired caregivers (including home health care givers)
  • Helping seniors apply for social services
  • Researching governmental assistance programs or other programs available in your community

Consult With an Elder Law Attorney

If you are considering long-term care for yourself or a loved one, you may want to seek out an elder law attorney. These professionals can assist not only with navigating the options, but also how to pay for long-term care. Search for a qualified elder law attorney near you today.

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