Geriatric psychiatry is a specialty under psychiatry that studies, prevents, and treats mental disorders in the elderly. It can also be referred to as geropsychiatry, psychogeriatrics, or psychiatry of old age.
A practitioner in Geriatric psychiatry deals with both the prevention, evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of mental and emotional disorders in the elderly.
A significant aspect of their job is to aid the improvement of psychiatric care for healthy and ill elderly patients.
Apparently, among the concerns that come with growing old or being an old parent in Nigeria, knowing the right time of your age to start seeing a professional in Geriatric psychiatry holds a significant position.
At what age should I start seeing a geriatric psychiatrist?
As explained earlier, Geriatric Psychiatry (GPsy) is the practice of psychiatry in older adults, so, patients who are older than 65 years of age are traditionally being defined as the age benchmark for when you should start seeing a geriatric psychiatrist.
Individuals in their golden years that is, in one way or the other, having trouble with a mental disability should consider seeing a geriatric psychiatrist or any kind of therapist.
Getting old does not mean you can not go back to living the best life you can. Such recommendation is simply presenting reasons why your older years don’t have to be in turmoil.
Who Exactly is a Geriatric Psychiatrist?
Like I have explained in the earlier part of this post, geriatric psychiatrists are not different from general psychiatrists. The major difference is that, yes they are medical doctors, or maybe an osteopathy doctor, but ones who have been trained to evaluate, diagnose, and treat mental disorders in older people.
The fact they deal will mental issues in older adults makes them special and adds some extra tasks to their treatment and therapy.
Some of the psychiatric disorders that a geriatric psychiatrist treats can be found in younger people this includes anxiety and depression.
But since it takes a different effect on older people, even more worse and severe, geriatric psychiatrists are specially trained to attend to them.
One special attribute in most geriatric psychiatrists is that they have an exceptional understanding of the needs of an older person and how to work with the family or the person to find the best solution for one’s treatment.
In my opinion, this is what makes them special and sets them apart from other types of psychiatrists. It also explains why the field of geriatric psychiatry is in demand.
In Nigeria today, the amount of older adults who are considered to be over the age of 65 is increasing and it seems to be bad news that the need to get a resound geriatric psychiatrist who can treat cases of mental illness or other disabilities is in demand.
It is a sad thing that we have gotten to the point in Nigeria where even doctors need to learn how to take care of an older population. We have millions of adults who are aging in Nigeria, more and more older adults who need help.
This is why it is ultimately encouraged that as older adults, there is a need to start seeing a geriatric psychiatrist, even when there is no noticeable sign of mental illness or any of sort. At the very least, You will agree with me that the signs and behavioral changes that come with aging are inevitable.
Like I mentioned earlier, your golden years doesn’t have to be turmoil.
What is the purpose of a geriatric psychiatrist?
If you do not know the purpose of geriatric psychiatrists and what they do to help old parents in Nigeria, you are likely not to understand me when I explain the need to start seeing a geriatric psychiatrist.
BetterHelp explains that just as you have a child and adolescent psychiatrist deal with children and adolescents, the geriatric psychiatrist provides specialized care for the elderly.
A geriatric psychiatrist deal with medication, behavior plans, and talk therapy with their clients. A significant process of treating a patient as with geriatric psychiatry is that the patient is first of all diagnosed.
And truth be told, more difficulty is associated with geriatric psychiatry, not just because they deal with old people, but also because they are often confronted with physical issues present with psychotic or depressive symptoms, not leaving out mental disorders and lethargy.
If you are within or above the age when you should start seeing a geriatric psychiatrist, more concerns should be drawn from what individuals of this profession are trained to do and how they conduct extensive physical assessments and psychological questionnaires.
Before a geriatric psychiatrist can decide on a treatment plan for you, they must first of all be able to distinguish the causes of certain symptoms.
For example, in cases where there is doubt if the patient will be able to remember to take their medication due to memory-related issues, how do the geriatric psychiatrist go about such a situation?
They will also need to know the type of support system the older parent have, as well as how effectively the treatment will interact with any other medications or medical conditions that the patient has.
The way a geriatric psychiatrist will access a patient will depend on a number of factors. For example, it is common in most Nigerian homes that the older parent lives alone, and most times in a non-assisted living facility.
Part of their diagnosis is to check how and whether the side effects of medication can be neutralized. And there are cases where even the patient is not open to psychiatric services. This is something a good geriatric psychiatrist needs to figure out before treatment.
I subscribe to the wide belief that most Nigerian older parent still carries the stigma of receiving psychiatric or psychological care. But the good thing is that attitudes are gradually changing.
A larger percentage of geriatric psychiatrists still report that clients in this part of the world tend to be more resistant to treatment or in denial that they require it in the first place.
This is why when listing the purpose of a geriatric psychiatrist, I can not do but mention the attribute of respect and persistence while still working through these barriers posed by older people in Nigeria.
If any of your loved ones, perhaps your parents or grandparents need a geriatric psychiatrist, you as the family member or friend tends to be more actively involved in treatment.
Part of the job of a Geriatric psychiatrists includes collaborating with the patient’s family to ensure that treatment can be delivered successfully
Older people may not be able to give all the information needed for the geriatric psychiatrist to work on. But with the involvement of family members and friends, they will be able to get a larger picture of the patient’s psychological issues.
This, in the general context of things, may not be applied in general psychiatry.
What does the geriatric psychiatrist assess?
I have been asked questions like these on several occasions and I consider it as a very important question even though it sounds like a question that will come from someone who is feeling reluctant.
It is a good thing to want to know what you can expect when you or your loved one goes to a geriatric psychiatrist.
When you go to see a geriatric psychiatrist, don’t feel hesitant to ask your questions too, especially during the first phase of assessment which is called the evaluation.
Patients should be free to ask questions like how they will be treated if a disorder is diagnosed, and what can be done to them if they have an untreatable disorder.
You should not ignore asking questions of such if you want to get the best psychiatrist experience possible.
A major red flag you should not ignore when dealing with geriatric psychiatrist is when they get upset and find every possible way to ignore your questions.
As an older adult, you do not want stress and uncertainty. You should find a geriatric psychiatrist who is a better fit for your treatments and need.
Once the geriatric psychiatrist is done interviewing the patient, what they do is to proceed to talk to the family as well.
Above all, expect a good geriatric psychiatrist to teach patient some basic mind techniques that can help you have the best mental state possible.
Is a geriatrician the same as a gerontologist?
When it comes to caring for older adults and aged, the field can be broadly divided into two-phase which are gerontology and geriatrics. To conclude this post on geriatric psychiatry, I will briefly walk you through the main differences between gerontology and geriatrics.
To get these two similar concepts in clearer terms, there is a need to pick them and define each individually.
We have been talking about geriatric psychiatry in the entire sections of this post, so I want to believe you have, to an extent, a solid understanding of what geriatric stands for.
So we begin with gerontology.
Any study that has to do with the process of aging and older adults can be referred to as gerontology.
There are many fields of study that connect to gerontology which includes medicine, sociology, government, and psychology.
Gerontology has to do with how Scientists perform studies on how people age, both physically and mentally, as well as individually and as a society.
Some of these studies are taken by doctors and used to recommend treatment options for patients.
The study of gerontology helps Psychologists to recommend therapies. And with recent development in science and medicine, we can observe that gerontology has now begun with people in middle age.
How does this makes difference from Geriatrics? After all, Geriatrics has something to do with older adults too, yeah?
Now, Geriatrics is not a different subject when compared with gerontology. Only that, in clearer terms, Geriatrics has to do with the medical specialty focused on the care and treatment of older persons.
And as we have seen in this post, it simply means treating and caring for people 65 and over. In other words, Geriatric practitioners have been trained to treat many kinds of conditions and situations that need special attention and that is developed in older people.
Unlike gerontology, it is not just about the study of the process of aging and older adults.
For instance, if an elderly person is found in the hospital due to a broken hip from a slip and fall, a Geriatrics professional will tell you that there is a possibility that such a patient is suffering from a heart condition, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, or other health problems.
This is where a Geriatrics is needed for prescription of drug interactions.
Similarities and differences between a geriatrician and gerontologist
To crown it all, here is a table that I have prepared highlighting the differences between a geriatrician and a gerontologist in clearer terms.
We can conclude that both are two branches of medicine that concern elderly people.
What strikes the difference between geriatrics and gerontology is that geriatrics deals with the health and care of old people, but gerontology, on the other hand, has to do with the study of old age and the process of aging
|A branch of medicine||A multidiciplinary study|
|Specifically focuses on the health and care of old people||Study of old age and process of aging|
|Focuses on medical aspect of aging||Termed a multidisciplinary study|