Diagnose and treat mental illness in elderly patients.
What does a Geriatric Psychiatrist do?
A Geriatric Psychiatrist diagnoses and treats mental illness in elderly patients. While it’s often said that you’re wiser when you’re older, old age unfortunately comes with a lot more than increased intelligence. In addition to sagacity and maturity, for instance, it often comes with increased health problems. When those problems are mental conditions, they require attention from a Geriatric Psychiatrist.
Those conditions – which include but are not limited to Alzheimer’s, dementia, depression, anxiety, late-in-life schizophrenia, and substance abuse – might be caused by the physical aging of the brain, or by social factors that are common among seniors, such as loneliness, abandonment, and isolation. Regardless, your mission as a Geriatric Psychiatrist is finding and fixing the source of mental unrest.
Although you might have your own private practice, you’re often employed by clinics, hospitals, assisted living centers, and nursing homes, where high numbers of elderly patients are treated. Wherever you set up shop, though, you function much like a normal Psychiatrist.
First, you diagnose patients by interviewing them and performing tests. Second, you treat patients with a combination of therapies, including talk therapy, psychotherapy, and prescription medication. Finally, you monitor patients’ progress, often in collaboration with Physicians, Nurses, Psychologists, Geriatricians, and Geriatric Social Workers.
What’s unique about you, therefore, isn’t so much what you do; it’s how you do it and whom you do it for. Because you’ve been specially trained to deal with the physical, mental, and emotional side effects of old age, you’re a little more knowledgeable – and a lot more sensitive – to the predicaments of getting older!