Geriatrics is a relatively new and growing discipline. It is about planning and applying comprehensive care to the elderly, either prior to the presentation of an illness, as well as during and after it.
What is Geriatrics about?
Although to exercise it it is not strictly necessary to have a previous medical degree, Geriatrics is a branch of Medicine. It is mainly dedicated to the comprehensive care of the elderly, whether in preventive aspects such as medical care, rehabilitation, social integration, recovering their physical and social independence, delaying the effects of aging, etc.
Why does Geriatrics become more important?
Because with the development of medicine and improvements in the quality of life, life expectancy has increased notably, in such a way that the percentage of the population that is within the category of old age (over 65 years) is every higher and higher. The number of people who fall into the geriatric groups with the highest risk, such as those over 75 and 90 years old, has also increased. In addition to this, changes in family types have made the role of the elderly less important, condemning them in many cases to isolation and loneliness. On the other hand, the loss of income at the end of your working life may have affected your medical care and social life, making outside assistance more necessary.
Is Geriatrics and Gerontology the same?
No, Geriatrics is included in Gerontology, which is a broader and more comprehensive field of study. While Geriatrics deals exclusively with the different care of the elderly, Gerontology studies different factors associated with aging, be they economic, psychological, clinical, etc., and not only deals with human beings.
What is studied in Geriatrics?
In many cases you will have to study Medicine first, but there are some courses and careers that will allow you to work in Geriatrics without doing this step. You will study subjects related to Psychology, Social Work, Rehabilitation, care for the Elderly, Food, etc.
What tasks does a Geriatrician perform?
The Geriatrist carries out a comprehensive evaluation of each elderly person in their care, implementing a plan to prevent the appearance of diseases and social problems related to aging, as well as rehabilitation in case of disease, trying to recover the capacities lost during it, integrate it into social environments that avoid loneliness and helplessness and, above all, avoid situations of physical and emotional dependence, and help you regain your independence if you have already passed that barrier.
What is the job opportunity for Geriatrics?
A specialist in Geriatrics will be able to work in the care of the elderly, either in hospitals, clinics, care centers, geriatric residences, home care companies, or directly in the care of the elderly in their homes.
Duration: This will depend on the type of studies you choose. You will find distance courses with indefinite duration to university degrees lasting 5 years, through specialized courses (for example, Geriatric Nursing Assistant or Basic Geriatrics Techniques) that last 120 hours or two-year master’s degrees (with a previous university degree of course).
Advantages of studying Geriatrics:
It is a profession in full growth, the demand is great and the professionals are not so many.
Depending on where you work, you can get relatively good salaries.
There are a variety of places to work, for which job opportunities are quite fast.
If you have a special relationship with the elderly, you will find that it is a job that will fill you up a lot on the inside.
Disadvantages of studying Geriatrics:
Being a new specialty, the offer of studies is not that wide. In many cases you must study Medicine first and, if not, you must be very careful with the institutes where you decide to take courses.
It is not a profession suitable for everyone. You must have a good relationship with the elderly, be very patient and be prepared to live very difficult situations.
Where to study Geriatrics?
Argentina: The University of Buenos Aires offers a Specialization in Geriatrics, with a duration of two years. The same duration has the Specialization in Geriatrics of the Maimonides University. On the other hand, the Specialization in Geriatrics and Gerontology at the National University of Rosario lasts 3 years. The Argentine Red Cross offers a Course for the Companion of the Elderly, which lasts 8 months.
Spain: there is a wide offer of Geriatrics or Applied Geriatrics courses, but it is necessary to find out beforehand and in depth about the prestige of the institutes that offer them. The San Antonio de Murcia Catholic University dictates a Master’s Degree in Geriatrics and Gerontology, with a duration of 9 months.
Mexico: Tecnológico de Monterrey offers a Specialty in Geriatrics, with a duration of eight semesters. At the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico you can study a specialty in Geriatrics, which lasts four semesters. The University of Nuevo León also offers a 4-semester Specialization in Clinical Geriatrics.
Peru: The Peruvian Red Cross offers the course of Care in the Elderly, with a duration of 70 hours. The Inca Garcilaso De La Vega University dictates the Master in Comprehensive Care of the Elderly.
Curious fact: Although there is no absolute proof of his age, the man who reached the most advanced age in history would be Li Ching Yuen, a Chinese herbalist who would have been born in 1677 and died in 1933, that is, he would have died at 256 years of age!