Should Seniors See a Geriatrician?


What is a geriatrician?

A geriatrician is a geriatrics doctor – someone who specializes in caring for people 65 and older. They’re doctors of internal or family medicine who have an extra 1 or 2 years of training in areas related to elder care.

The additional training gives them more experience with conditions like heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, mobility issues, or Alzheimer’s disease.


What’s the difference between a geriatrician and regular doctor?

Geriatricians have more experience with conditions that are common in seniors and with people who have multiple chronic conditions. They also have a better understanding of how older bodies respond to different treatments.

Internal or family medicine doctors are more likely to see patients who are between 30 and 60 years old. When treating an older adult, these doctors may have to make educated guesses based on their experience with younger patients. Their lack of experience with aging bodies could also lead them to recommend more aggressive treatments that might not work as well for older patients.

It’s similar to how pediatricians are doctors that specialize in caring for children. In a lifetime, someone could start with a pediatrician, change to an internal medicine doctor, and then switch to a geriatrician.


Should my parent or spouse see a geriatrician?

If your older adult’s current doctor has plenty of experience with their health conditions and you’re both happy with the care they provide, there’s no need to make a change.

Seniors who are unhappy with their current doctor or those who have more complex health issues could benefit from seeing a geriatrician.

Another benefit is that geriatricians spend more time at each appointment and collect more information than an internal medicine doctor would. They ask about lifestyle, community, family, and get your older adult’s full medical history.

Geriatricians can dig deeper to find out if a problem is caused by non-age-related illness or injury rather than just assuming it’s due to age. Because they’re more thorough, you can be more confident that their diagnosis is accurate.


Next Step  Find a geriatrician in your area


You might also like:
7 Tips for Helping Seniors at the Doctor’s: Being a Health Advocate
4 Tips for Managing Multiple Health Conditions
Medications Seniors Should Avoid: The Beers List


By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: Myeloma Crowd


  • Reply May 8, 2019

    Lois Wells

    Do geriatricians prescribe pain meds to patients such as tramadol

    • Reply May 9, 2019


      Geriatricians are medical doctors so they’re able to prescribe medications that are appropriate for a patient’s health condition.

  • Reply February 27, 2018

    Linda Baumgartner

    Thank you for including the fact that true geriatrians have special training and not just an interest in geriatrics. This is a specialty like urolology, cardiology, or dermatology – the physician should be board certified. They can make a huge difference in the care of your loved one.

    • Reply February 27, 2018


      You’re very welcome! You’re right that it’s important to know that someone is a board certified geriatrician and has the specialized training and experience to care for older bodies. However, there aren’t as many geriatricians as there are doctors of other specialties so it may be harder to find one. If there are no geriatricians in the area, looking for a doctor with experience treating older patients is a good alternative.

Leave a Reply