Geriatric psychiatry is sometimes referred to as psychiatry of old age, psychogeriatrics, or geropsychiatry. It is a subspecialty in psychiatry that studies, evaluates, diagnoses, prevents, and treats mental disorders in aged people. It gives emphasis to how acute and chronic illnesses psychiatrically impact old people and psychological and biological aspects of normal aging.
Medical professionals whose area of specialty is in providing psychiatric services to aged individuals are called geriatric psychiatrists. Psychiatrists are trained a year longer to specialize in this field. The training equips the with understanding that physical, emotional, and social needs of old individuals differ from those of people in other age groups.
Some of the psychiatric disorders handled by psychiatrists include late-life schizophrenia, depression, dementia, and anxiety. Experts listen to patients and respond to concerns expressed by their clients. Family members may also receive treatment or be part of the treatment strategy. Psychiatrists consult and work with professionals from other fields to assist clients. Deep understanding of all underlying factors must be understood before a diagnosis is made.
Formulation of treatment plans may be done by singular effort of the expert or may involve other professionals. Family issues, medications, environmental issues, social concerns, and medical illnesses are all considered in formulating treatment plans. All factors named above play a role in the life of people.
Determining who and when to get geriatric help can at times be hard. Age does not matter so much in this case. However, in most jurisdictions advanced age starts at the age of 70 years. This age however is very variable and depends on the jurisdiction in question. Some jurisdictions set it higher while others place it at a lower age. Signs to observe in order to find this help include hardship in coping with death, change, stress, and depression.
Other situations include when experiencing anxiety, poor sleep, a family history of dementia, memory problems, and agitation resulting from dementia. It is also possible to experience emotional problems for the first time at advanced age hence one should not neglect such feelings. Adults suffering from heart disease, Parkinson disease, diabetes, chronic pain, and stroke are most likely to be depressed and feel emotionally low. The practitioners understand situations and may also advise family members on how to cope with the difficulties and even refer clients to other more suited services.
Geriatric psychiatrists should be part of the medical team of all aging people. The practitioners are helpful in providing advice to doctors about complicated situations in which both mental and medical illnesses are involved. Nurses also get educated on independent living and long term care. Patients are also supported by psychiatrists through education of society, directing of health workers in homes, and advocating for public policy.
Since this is a subspecialty of psychiatry, the salary is same as in the other sub-divisions. The only variation in training happens at the end. Both public and private sector offer employment opportunities to trainees.
Read more about Professional Psychiatric Services.