By 2050, the 65 and older population is projected to be close to 87 million. The 75 and older population is projected to be close to 49 million and the number of people age 85 and older is projected to increase to 7.3 million in 2020.
What Is a Geriatrician?
A geriatrician is a physician who has completed a residency in either Internal Medicine or Family Medicine with an additional one or two year fellowship training in the medical, social, and psychological issues that concern older adults. This specialty is increasing in importance as the population ages and that aging population lives longer. People over the age of 85 are the fast growing segment of the population. It is no longer a rarity for people to live to be one hundred. A geriatrician is a doctor who specializes in care for people 55 and older. Just as a pediatrician tends to the needs of a child, a geriatrician cares for the special needs of changing seniors. Geriatricians approach each patient’s needs individually, and possess the knowledge and expertise needed to accommodate seniors.
They are typically board certified in Internal Medicine and Geriatric Medicine. They can better address issues such as memory loss, arthritis, osteoporosis, mobility and Alzheimer’s disease. Clearly, geriatrics includes more than treating physical problems; it means recognizing how health conditions affect seniors socially and emotionally, and vice versa. Seniors often associate age with certain diseases, yet, aging does not cause diseases. While many seniors believe that the reason they are not feeling well is because they are getting older, this is not always the case. The problems they are experiencing may be related to an illness or injury not at all caused by age. This is why it is important to seek the helpful knowledge of a geriatrician.
This type of physician practice far exceeds simply diagnosing a physical problem and treating it. Geriatricians collect information about patients’ lifestyles, community, family, and their entire medical history. The most appropriate term for a physician who specializes in the care of older adults is geriatrician, not gerontologist. A gerontologist is generally a non-physician, though physicians who focus on aging research can also be considered gerontologists.