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What Is A Gerontologist: Does Your Elderly Loved One Need One?

A gerontologist holding the hand of an older adult

By 2030 when all baby boomers will be 65 and older, it’s projected that the number of older adults will be 73.1 million. In other words, 1 in 5 Americans is expected to be at retirement age.

With these projections, there is a rising need for healthcare professionals who study the aging process — gerontologists and can help our elderly loved ones have the best quality of life as they advance into their golden years.

Keep reading to learn more about a gerontologist, if your loved one needs one, and how to find one near you.

What Is Gerontology?

Before we talk about what a gerontologist does, it’s best to understand what gerontology means.

Gerontology is the study of the aging process and individuals across the course of their life. This multidisciplinary field of study focuses on the biological, sociological, cognitive, and psychological aspects of aging.

In other words,

  • It’s the study of mental, physical, and social changes in individuals as they age.

  • Investigation of the changes in society as a result of the aging process

  • Application of this knowledge to policies and programs.

The field of gerontology combines professionals from multiple disciplines including doctors, behavioral and social scientists, nurses, social workers, psychologists, biologists, policy experts, and other researchers on aging.

There are three subfields of gerontology. They include:

  1. Biological Gerontology

  2. Social Gerontology, and

  3. Environmental Gerontology

Biological Gerontology

This field studies the biological process of aging, and how it impacts individuals. They try to understand the physical changes that come with aging, the cause, and how they can prevent or delay reversing the process.

Social Gerontology

This field deals with how aging affects society regarding the relationship between the elderly and their family, caregivers, and society. Policies and programs are also developed here to improve the life quality of older adults.

Environment Gerontology

Researchers here study the interaction of people with their environment as they age. They try to identify factors that aid healthy aging and develop programs or interventions to improve the environment to make older adults age better.

What Does A Gerontologist Do?

A gerontologist with an elderly man - what does a gerontologist do

A gerontologist studies the physical, cognitive, emotional, mental, and societal effects of aging. They can work as researchers, educators, and in direct medical services.

Gerontologists improve the quality of life of older adults and promote their well-being through research, education, and the application of multidisciplinary knowledge from studying the aging process.

A gerontologist can take on roles in the following areas:

  • Nursing

  • Grief counseling

  • Mental health counseling

  • Health education

  • Occupational therapy

  • Rehabilitation

  • Wellness care

  • Social work

  • Public policy

  • Research

  • Education

  • Geriatric advocacy

  • Case management and lots more

Gerontologists tend to work in places such as:

  • Assisted living facilities

  • Community health clinics

  • Hospitals/hospices

  • Government agencies

  • Residential/long-term care communities

  • Rehabilitation facilities

  • Private consulting

Gerontology Vs Geriatrics

Gerentology vs geriatrics

People tend to use both terms interchangeably, but they are different.

Gerontology has to do with the study of aging with a focus on its biological, sociological, cognitive, and psychological aspects.

Geriatrics on the other hand is limited to the physical and medical consequences of aging. It focuses on the care of older adults, and common conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, vision loss, heart and lung diseases, and other physical ailments that older adults experience.

The goal of geriatrics is to diagnose, treat and prevent medical and cognitive conditions that come as a result of aging.

Does My Elderly Loved One Need A Gerontologist?

Whether your loved one needs a gerontologist or not depends on their individual health needs. Since a gerontologist specializes in a holistic approach to caring for older adults they may prove beneficial in certain cases.

For instance, a gerontologist may be able to provide specialized care and support If your loved one is experiencing age-related health issues such as cognitive impairment, mobility issues, chronic illness, or other complex medical problems.

A gerontologist can also help your loved one coordinate their care with other healthcare providers, and provide guidance on lifestyle changes to improve their overall health and well-being.

On the flip side, your loved one may not need to see a gerontologist if they are generally healthy, and not experiencing any major issues.

However, it’s still essential that they go for periodic checkups with their primary care physician to maintain their health and catch any potential issues early.

Pros and Cons Of Seeing A Gerontologist

A gerontologist with an elderly woman - what is a gerontologist

A decision to see a gerontologist can be made by your loved one’s primary health physician or even you as their primary care provider. Below are some of the pros and cons of seeing one.


  • Specialized experts: since gerontologists have specialized training in the biological, social, and psychological issues affecting older adults, then they can provide tailored care and support for the complex health needs of elderly individuals.

  • Comprehensive care: Gerontologists can provide comprehensive care, outside medical care which addresses social, emotional, and environmental factors that can impact an older adult’s health and well-being.

  • Coordination with other healthcare providers: To make sure that all facets of an elderly person’s health are being taken care of, gerontologists can act as a single point of contact for their medical treatment and assist in coordinating care with other healthcare professionals.


  • Limited availability: Because they may not be as widely available as other medical professionals, gerontologists may not be found everywhere.

  • Cost: Visiting a gerontologist could be more expensive than visiting a primary care physician, depending on the patient’s insurance coverage.

  • Multiple appointments: Making additional appointments and traveling to see a gerontologist might be difficult for elderly people who have mobility or transportation problems.

How To Find A Gerontologist

middle aged woman finding a gerontologist for mom

Because gerontologists are a relatively specialized type of healthcare provider, finding one can be difficult. There are, however, a few approaches you can take to find a qualified gerontologist.

  1. Ask your primary care physician: Based on your loved one’s health requirements and medical background, your primary care doctor might be able to recommend a gerontologist.

  2. Check with your insurance provider: A list of gerontologists who are covered by your health plan may be available through your insurance company.

  3. Look Online: You might be able to find a gerontologist by searching online using keywords like “gerontologist near me.”

  4. Consult professional organizations: Professional organizations such as the Gerontological Society of America or the American Geriatrics Society may have resources or directories to help you find qualified gerontologists.

It’s essential to take into consideration a gerontologist’s training, experience, and approach to care when looking for one. Are they systematically approaching care rather than catering to each individual?

Additionally, to learn more about a potential gerontologist’s qualifications and determine whether they would be a suitable fit for your loved one’s needs, you may wish to set up a consultation.

Also, consider accessibility or location convenience, as well as the cost of service and insurance coverage. Some gerontologists may not be connected to an insurance network and will offer a flat fee pricing scheme. By using the flat fee pricing, the gerontologist is able to operate outside of public insurance restrictions, offering more options for care for elderly loved ones.

If you feel a gerontologist isn’t meeting the need of your loved one, feel free to try another one.

Exceptional Quality Care For Older Adults At Amy’s Eden

Whether or not your loved one needs a gerontologist, if they are struggling with personal care, mobility issues, or battling an ailment, they will need a compassionate caregiver whose support can help improve the quality of their life.

Amy’s Eden provides just the compassionate and experienced caregiver your loved one needs to continue to age gracefully and happily. Think of our caregivers as superheroes that take the burden of worrying about your loved one’s care away from you.

Whether they want to continue to age at home or any place they call home like our assisted homes, we can provide quality care and a higher level of care when they need it.

You can contact us today to learn more about our outstanding services, and how we can be of help to you and your elderly loved one.

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