Geriatrician

What is a Geriatrician? Defining what is a Consultant Physician in Geriatric Medicine

A Geriatrician:

  1. Is a consultant physician, trained under the auspices of the Australian Specialty Training Committee (STC) in Geriatric Medicine or the New Zealand Specialist Advisory Committee (SAC) in Geriatric Medicine, of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP); or has achieved an equivalent standard of training.
  2. Possesses specific expertise. A geriatrician is an expert:
    • in the medical diagnosis and management of older people across the continuum of care (acute geriatric internal medicine, rehabilitation and restorative care of older people, residential and community care) and
    • in the management of the complexity of the multiple pathologies that may be present in the older patient and,
    • in the diagnosis and management of geriatric syndromes (falls, confusion and incontinence, neurodegenerative diseases and stroke)
  3. Values the importance of their role in research and teaching
  4. Advocates for the health concerns of older people
  5. Advocates for improvement in the quality of care for older people in all settings

Gerontology

As defined by the Australian Association of Gerontology

Gerontology is the study of ageing and older adults. A more complete definition of gerontology includes all of the following:

  • Scientific studies of processes associated with the bodily changes from middle age through later life.
  • Multidisciplinary investigation of societal changes resulting from an ageing population and ranging from the humanities to economics.
  • Applications of this knowledge to policies and programmes.

Gerontology is multidisciplinary and is concerned with physical, mental, and social aspects and implications of ageing. Geriatrics is a medical speciality focused on care and treatment of older persons.

Gerontologists include researchers, educators, policy makers and practitioners in health, allied health and aged care, as well as others engaged in ageing issues.

AAG’s membership includes gerontologists (including geriatricians) as well as other people with an interest in ageing.

Dementia

As defined by ANZSGM Position Statement 28 ‘Dementia in Older People’.

Dementia is an acquired condition of the brain characterised by multiple cognitive impairments, severe enough to cause a decline in social or occupational function, and not better accounted for by delirium or depression.

Palliative care

As defined by ANZSGM Position Statement 16 ‘Palliative care and the Older Person’

Palliative care is an approach that aims to optimise the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems associated with life-threatening illness. It can be offered at any time after diagnosis of a life-threatening illness and integrated into an overall care plan. The Palliative approach can be practised by all clinicians, with assistance from specialised palliative care services when required.

Frailty

As defined by ANZSGM Position Statement 22 ‘Frailty in Older People’

The term “frail” is intended to identify vulnerable older people at high risk of adverse outcomes including falls, worsening disability, institutionalisation and death. The prevalence of frailty increases with chronological age and there is likely to be an age point, say 95 years, at which all individuals are vulnerable to adverse outcomes. Similarly, co-morbidities can incur vulnerability and some chronic diseases are associated with very high frailty levels. Yet, frailty is not synonymous with either age or disease.

Chronological age alone is not a sensitive predictor of inpatient mortality, for example. and there is considerable variation in how older people tolerate disease, even when disease severity is taken into account.