Learn how you can help the elderly as a geriatric psychologist.
Geriatric psychologists deal with the special problems faced by the elderly. The emergence and growth of these specialties reflects the increasing participation of psychologists in providing direct services to special patient populations. Geriatric psychologists hold PhD degrees in psychology.
There was little focus on geriatric psychology before the 1970s, but as physicians in the U.S. began to age, they realized they needed to understand age-related illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, depression and dementia.
Geriatric psychologists are part of the larger field of psychologists. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median national annual salary for psychologists, all others, is $90,020. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.
With the baby boomer generation aging and the fact that a larger percentage of the population will be elderly, geriatric psychologists will be in demand. These professionals help older adults deal with change, stress, death, memory problems and anxiety in a healthy fashion. Sometimes emotional problems occur in people who are coping with chronic pain, heart disease, diabetes and strokes, and geriatric psychologists assist in easing their suffering.
Geriatric psychologists see elderly patients in many environments, such as these:
- Private practice office
- Long-term care facilities
- Independent or assisted living facility
Geriatric psychologists may also work with physicians and primary care-givers and act as advisers to nurses and other health care professionals. Advocacy for public health care policy and educating the community could also play an important part in a geriatric psychology career.