Geriatrics is the branch of medicine concerned with the diagnoses and treatment, or sometimes just the management, of conditions and disorders that sometimes occur in, and so are widely associated with, old age. The word geriatrics is also used to refer to the medical care of the elderly generally.
Compare geriatrics with the related area of gerontology which involves study of the changes that occur in the mind and body during the ageing process - and the challenges and opportunities for psychological and spiritual growth associated with them.
Geriatrics is important because older adults may react to illness and diseases differently from younger adults. There are also some conditions that are specifically associated with the later stages of ageing which the medical community now expects to apply to an increasing proportion of people living in modern Western populations due to life-expectancy being longer than for previous generations, and continuing to increase.
For example, health concerns commonly found in found in the frail elderly may include
- frequent falls
- memory problems
- side effects due to or associated with the use of multiple medications.
There are some respects in which geriatric medicine overlaps with, and is supported by, non-medical personal care and social services - some of which are also government funded in some countries.
- A medical specialist in the field of geriatrics is called a geriatrician.
- Technically, the adjective used to refer to geriatrics would be "geriatrical". However this term is very rarely used. The words used in its place are a variety of terms and expressions used in standard (rather than 'medical') English.
Links to other relevant areas on this website include:
- Glossary section: General Medical Terms.