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What is geriatrics?

What is geriatrics?

Geriatrics is a branch of medicine dealing with the care of older adults. Geriatrics aims to provide comprehensive, patient-centered care for the whole person, from initial aging to the end of life.

Why is geriatrics needed and how is it different from medicine for younger adults?

It is widely accepted that children need pediatricians, since children are not simply little adults. In the same way, older adults need geriatricians, since older adults are not simply adults with higher numerical age. As we grow older, our health and medical problems are different from those of younger adults in 3 ways:

First : When we grow older, our physiology and organ function are not the same as they used to be. For example, our liver or kidneys, essential in drug metabolism, may not function as efficiently as those of younger adults. As a result, drug dosing or other types of treatment need a specialist who takes these physiologic changes into consideration.

Second : As we age, we tend to have more medical problems. These diseases do not simply co-exist, but often interact to worsen your health. For example, a strict blood pressure control may cause a patient to feel dizzy and fall, breaking his hip and causing him to become bedbound. This type of disease interaction is termed multimorbidity, which requires management by a geriatrician with special training in this area.

Third : As we grow older, the number of medications we need to take increases. The more drugs we take, the harder it will be to take all of them correctly, and the more likely they will interact to cause unwanted side effects. As a result, older adults need geriatricians who are trained to manage these complex interactions. They usually work with geriatric pharmacists who also help monitor the medication list and make sure that the dosing is appropriate for each person.

Due to the 3 main reasons above, older adults are different and more complex than younger ones. As a result, they need specialized care by a multidisciplinary geriatrics team to make sure that their care is safe and well-coordinated.

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