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The Role of Geriatric Psychiatrists

by Karen Mozzer on 8/1/14 8:30 AM

Geriatric psychiatrists are specialized medical doctors who diagnose and treat mental disorders that occur in older adults. Geriatric behavioral health and mental health disorders of the older population include a wideGeriatric Psychiatrists range of diagnoses, such as late-life schizophrenia, depression, dementia and anxiety. Older adults with geriatric behavioral and mental health issues have special emotional, social and physical needs.

Today, geriatric behavioral health psychiatrics implement a whole-person treatment program to treat those seniors in need. Family issues, medications, co-existing medical illnesses, environmental issues and social concerns are integrated for a comprehensive treatment program. Geriatric behavioral health psychiatrists are important members of the health care team. These professionals advise primary care physicians in complex situations, collaborate with health care professionals in independent living facilities and work closely with patients in long-term care. All around, geriatric psychiatrists are strong advocates for their patients.

Who Sees a Geriatric Psychiatrist?

Older adults who see a geriatric psychiatrist often present with a wide variety of specific concerns. Some seniors may have difficulty coping with death, illness, change, memory problems or agitation related to dementia. It’s also not uncommon for older adults who suffer from chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and diabetes, to experience emotional problems for the first time in their lives. With the help of a geriatric psychiatrist, older adults can better understand their illness, cope and improve their quality of life.

During treatment, geriatric psychiatrists often communicate with family members to ensure that they understand the nature of their loved ones illness and explain strategies for care and coping.

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