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Geriatric psychiatry is a subspecialty of psychiatry focusing on the treatment of mental and emotional health in older adults. This subspecialty examines psychiatric wellbeing in the context of the physical and cognitive changes that occur with aging. Geriatric psychiatry seeks to improve the quality of life of adults by facilitating successful transitions into old age.
Geriatric psychologists work to prevent, diagnose, and treat mental and emotional disorders for seniors. They may participate in mental disorder research and psychiatric clinical trials.
Geriatric psychiatrists treat both newly developing and pre-existing conditions in older adults. In particular, these psychiatrists engage with conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer's, and delirium (confusion) as well as their behavioral symptoms. Other disorders a geriatric psychiatrist may treat include depression, anxiety, and mental illness.
Diagnosis is reached through cognitive assessments, psychological tests, and at times, neurological examinations. Geriatric psychiatrists may review a patient's psychiatric family history, as well as their social function and daily routine.
Geriatric psychiatrists may prescribe some combination of pharmaceutical medication, therapy, or cognitive rehabilitation. Comprehensive care plans consider both medical and emotional health, as well as differences in sensory and cognitive capacity. Geriatric psychologists monitor patient risk factors, and might recommend care facilities or senior services if appropriate. Geriatric psychologists may also equip elder caregivers with educational resources.