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What is a Geriatric Psychiatrist?

by Karen Mozzer on 10/16/14 6:00 AM

A geriatric psychiatrist is a medical doctor with special training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health what is a geriatric psychiatristdisorders that may occur in older adults. These disorders include dementia, depression, anxiety, late-life schizophrenia and more.  Seniors have unique social, emotional and physical needs. Knowing this, the geriatric psychiatrist uses a comprehensive approach to diagnosis and individual treatment plans. Co-existing medical issues, social concerns, family issues, medications and environmental issues are all integrated into a holistic and comprehensive program of care. All around, geriatric psychiatrists listen and respond to the concerns of seniors, work with family members and collaborate with other health care professionals, such as nurses in a nursing home.

Where Can You Find A Geriatric Psychiatrist?

Many geriatric psychiatrists work in a wide array of settings, including private practices, long-term care facilities and hospitals. Many seniors who see a geriatric psychiatrist are also seeing other health care providers. Often, the geriatric psychiatrist will consult with these other providers to see how medications and other health issues may be affecting the patient’s mental health status. Consultation is also done with the patient’s family members to gather information of the patient’s living situation and to ensure that the patient has the ability to follow the treatment plan. If needed, the geriatric psychiatrist may recommend other resources for additional support.

What Does A Geriatric Psychiatrist Do?

Since cognitive disorders are more prevalent as age increases, geriatric psychiatrists may use standardized tests to determine the cognitive skills of a senior. The most widely recognized cognitive assessment test used is the Folstein Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). It tests memory recall and executive functioning. This test is often used to identify early dementia. Other tests for dementia and mild cognitive impairment include neuropsychological testing.

Therapeutic modalities of geriatric psychiatrists include individual psychotherapy and psychopharmacology. Psychotherapy often includes drama therapy and art therapy. Psychopharmacology may entail the use of antidepressants and antipsychotics. Most geriatric psychiatrists use the two in combination for optimal results.

The role of geriatric psychiatrists is broad. The goal is properly treat mental health issues for the elderly and to enhance the quality of life for seniors. 

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