Why Geriatrics and Gerontology Matter

Posted by on Feb 24, 2011 in Caregiving, Health Care Team and System | 0 comments

Aging is complex – and unique to each individual. When older adults experience acute illness, they need – and deserve – specialized care. Health professionals specialized in Geriatrics or Gerontology have the expertise to recognize normal aging, identify common diseases of old age and provide holistic care.

The term “Geriatric” refers to the study, diagnosis and treatment of common diseases associated with aging. The term “Gerontology” is derived from Greek, and means “the study of elders”. Gerontology is multidisciplinary and therefore looks at physical, mental and social aspects of a senior’s life. 

Why know these terms? There are a variety of practitioners in your community. Knowing how to find those with specialized knowledge and expertise will help you or a senior family member get the best possible care.

In hospital: A geriatrician is as important to an older adult as a pediatrician is to a child! So ask for a geriatrician – a physician who can work with the health care team to determine an appropriate plan of care. Geriatricians have been certified in Canada since 1981. For more information, visit their website: http://canadiangeriatrics.com/

In a long-term care facility: Ask for a Certified Gerontological Nurse. These nurses have written national certification exams to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. Their education makes them exemplary problem-solvers. As part of the health care team, their focus includes avoiding the dangers of over-treating as well as under- treating chronic and acute health problems in older adults.

In the community: If a senior is still healthy and wants to stay that way as long as possible, look for a Geriatric or Gerontological Nurse Practitioner. Contact your local health authority or the provincial nursing association to locate resources near you. For more information, visit the Canadian Gerontological Nurses Association website: http://cgna.net/

Vol.2, No.9; © ElderWise Inc. 2005

You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO articles, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise Inc., Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at www.elderwise.ca and subscribe to our FREE e-newsletter.

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