Geriatricians are specially trained to provide comprehensive care for the elderly - as we age, our immune systems generally weaken and we are more susceptible to illness and injury.

Watch an Overview of Geriatric Medicine

About Geriatrics

Treatment provided by geriatric physicians, or geriatricians, differs from other medical specialties in that the nature of care needed by the elderly can be very unique. It is not uncommon for elderly patients to have a multitude of overlapping health complications, which require the skill and knowledge of a physician trained specifically in geriatrics.

Geriatricians are trained to treat a multitude of disorders and complications, such as: incontinence, both urinary and fecal; dementia; Alzheimer’s Disease; decline in motor skills and memory function; pressure ulcers; pain management; various podiatric (feet) complications; various sleep disorders; various forms of cancer; arthritis and rheumatism; diabetes; prostate complications; immune disorders; congestive heart failure; cataracts; cardiovascular disease; pneumonia; muscle loss and/or weakness; Parkinson’s Disease and many other diseases affecting the elderly.

Geriatric physicians provide a wide array of treatments and treatment plans for their patients including: the management of multiple medications, as the elderly consume approximately 30% of all prescription medications in the United States; wound care services; behavioral health treatments; assisted living assistance and many others, as the elderly account for approximately 33% of all medical spending in the United States.

Geriatrics Education & Training

The education and training required to become a geriatric physician is usually comprised of approximately 10 years of post-secondary education. After successful completion of a bachelor’s degree in pre-medical or comparable studies, the student must apply to and graduate from an accredited medical school. After earning an MD or DO medical degree, the physician typically enrolls in an internal medicine or family medicine residency program. After completing a residency, the physician will complete a one to two year specialized fellowship in geriatrics to gain the experience and training required to provide the proper care for elderly patients.

Alternately, some residency programs may combine geriatric and internal medicine (or in some cases, general or family medicine) into one residency program that meets the board certification requirements for both the main specialties and the geriatric subspecialty. In some cases, this track may eliminate the need for specialized fellowship training. Regardless of the educational path of a geriatrician, the physician is trained in the treatment and diagnosis of illness and disease in adult and elderly patients; they are capable of providing the unique and comprehensive spectrum of care that these patients require.

Generally, geriatric physicians become board certified in geriatric medicine after completing the requirements to earn a Certificate of Added Qualifications in Geriatric Medicine, a program developed jointly by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) and the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM). Geriatricians, like other physicians, are required to earn a medical license and complete certain continuing medical education requirements.