What does a Geriatric Neurologist do?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
A geriatric neurologist might be involved in the direct treatment of an elderly patient.
A geriatric neurologist might be involved in the direct treatment of an elderly patient.

A geriatric neurologist is a type of doctor who focuses his or her practice on the nervous system disorders of the elderly. Most geriatric neurologists work with patients 65 and up, though some may also work with people that develop neurological issues common to the elderly, such as early onset Alzheimer's disease. A doctor in this specialty area will generally deal with some aspect of the research, evaluation, diagnosis, or treatment involved in neurological diseases and disorders that afflict older people.

Geriatric neurologists need to use specialized empathy and listening skills when interacting with elderly patients and their caregivers.
Geriatric neurologists need to use specialized empathy and listening skills when interacting with elderly patients and their caregivers.

Geriatric neurologists typically spend several years doing specialized training before entering the field as a fully qualified physician. In addition to regular medical school and a residency, doctors planning to enter neurology perform multiple year fellowships and internships studying the specifics of neurology. Following that, some may choose to do even more training to focus specifically on geriatrics as an area of practice. Most receive some form of certification from an accredited board before officially beginning to practice geriatric neurology without supervisions, meaning that even a newly qualified geriatric neurologist just beginning to work in the field may have completed over a decade of intensive training.

A geriatric doctor must be familiar with legal topics such as advance directives, which specify how a patient would like to be treated in the event of incapacitation.
A geriatric doctor must be familiar with legal topics such as advance directives, which specify how a patient would like to be treated in the event of incapacitation.

Some doctors in the field choose to focus on research and the development of new treatment options for neurological disorders common in seniors. They may work with pharmaceutical companies or private research groups to further understanding of illnesses and disorders, conduct clinical trials, and present findings and theories through scholarly medical journals. A geriatric neurologist in the research field has an excellent opportunity to improve the future of the science through dedicated work.

Many geriatric neurologists have practices devoted to the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of neurological disorders in elderly adults. They may be called in to diagnose people showing signs of age-related dementia, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, or cognitive and nerve-related impairment. In this capacity, they are usually considered consultants and may not work with patients beyond the initial diagnosis. Others may help draw out detailed treatment plans that may include medication, surgery, and long-term pain management plans.

Since the field of geriatrics encompasses many different areas of specialization, a geriatric neurologist may have to work with many other professionals in related fields. Common collaborators include specialists in internal medicine, neurological surgeons, psychologists and other mental health professionals, and physical therapists. With a good network of contacts in related fields, a geriatric neurologist can help put together a comprehensive care package that will manage all of a patient's needs.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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    • A geriatric neurologist might be involved in the direct treatment of an elderly patient.
      A geriatric neurologist might be involved in the direct treatment of an elderly patient.
    • Geriatric neurologists need to use specialized empathy and listening skills when interacting with elderly patients and their caregivers.
      Geriatric neurologists need to use specialized empathy and listening skills when interacting with elderly patients and their caregivers.
    • A geriatric doctor must be familiar with legal topics such as advance directives, which specify how a patient would like to be treated in the event of incapacitation.
      A geriatric doctor must be familiar with legal topics such as advance directives, which specify how a patient would like to be treated in the event of incapacitation.