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What is Gerontology?

geriatric care

Do you know the difference between gerontology and geriatrics? Or understand what a gerontologist does versus a geriatric specialist? While both strive to improve life for seniors, and are clearly related, there is a difference between the two disciplines.

Gerontology is the study of the aging process including investigation of the physical, mental, and social changes that affect people as they age. Geriatrics is a branch of medicine that focuses on health promotion, as well as the treatment of disease and disability later in life.

At Hebrew SeniorLife, geriatric specialists are devoted to preserving or improving physical and mental function as well as curing age-related diseases. The goal of geriatric medicine is to allow elderly people to remain as independent as possible for as long as possible. The geriatrician is not exclusively a heart or kidney doctor, but a specialist in syndromes that affect elderly patients. For example, geriatricians are experts in multiple systems and diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease, Prostate enlargement, osteoporosis, and hypertension.

While geriatric specialists are medical doctors, gerontologists are researchers and practitioners from diverse fields, such as nursing, social work, psychology, or physical and occupational therapy. Through various practices, these professionals strive to address senior health issues and improve the quality of life and care of seniors.

Hebrew SeniorLife has always been a leader in gerontology with research professionals at the Institute for Aging Research conducting rigorous medical and social studies aimed at developing strategies that maximize strength, vigor and physical well-being, as well as preserve cognitive and functional independence for adults as they age.

Aging can be a challenging stage of life, but both geriatric specialists and gerontologists work to improve senior health issues and ensure that the process of aging can be comfortable, productive, and gratifying.    

To learn more about geriatric specialists at HSL, click here.  

Lewis Lipsitz, M.D.'s picture

About the Blogger

Vice President, Academic Medicine Director, Institute for Aging Research

Lewis Lipsitz, M.D., has spent most of his career in geriatric medicine at Hebrew SeniorLife (HSL), where he currently serves as vice president for academic medicine and director of the Institute for Aging Research. He also holds the Irving and Edyth S. Usen and Family Chair in Medical Research. In addition to his positions at HSL, he is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief of the Division of Gerontology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Dr. Lipsitz's research interests include falls, fainting, blood pressure regulation, cognitive dysfunction, and...

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