Geriatric Psychiatrist

Job Description


A geriatric psychiatrist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues common in older patients.

There are certain mental disorders that occur later in life, such as dementias and Alzheimer’s disease.

Older patients frequently have to deal with multiple health issues simultaneously, including:

  • Intense grief over the loss of a spouse or lifetime friends

  • Feeling as though they have no purpose or feeling isolated

  • Stressing over financial concerns

  • Fears of disease, death or fears of injury from accidents, such as falling

  • Emotional difficulties related to health issues, such as coping with pain or a devastating disease such as cancer

  • Difficulty coping with changes around them

A geriatric psychiatrist is trained to help patients with the above concerns as well as provide diagnosis and treatment for specific mental disorders that may occur at any age, such as:

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Schizophrenia

  • Bipolar disorder

  • Alcohol/substance abuse

The geriatric psychiatrist begins the process by taking a complete history of the patient’s health, the support system available through the family, the patient’s living situation and general mental status.

They can then order any tests required to aid in determining a diagnosis.

In many cases, the family members are consulted to obtain information about the patient’s situation and to ensure that they understand the diagnosis and are able to follow the treatment plan.

If the family needs assistance to support the patient, the geriatric psychiatrist may also recommend resources that can help.




Many patients who consult a geriatric psychiatrist are also seeing other health care providers. A geriatric psychiatrist consults with other health care providers to devise a plan to manage other health issues or medications that may be impacting the patient’s mental status.

Geriatric psychiatrists also engage in research, in teaching other psychiatrists and other health care professionals, and consult with businesses and institutions that work to develop medications to treat metal illnesses that affect the elderly.




A geriatric psychiatrist is a physician who specializes is the human psyche, so they have a long list of skills.

They must be able to engage with people and use their medical expertise to make a comprehensive assessment of patients.

They combine medication along with therapy sessions to develop treatment plans and help people overcome mental disorders. 



Psychiatrists must be able to gauge how people react and read their body language to decipher their feelings and predict their actions. They must be able to determine if people could be a risk to themselves or others and to distinguish truths from lies.


Psychiatrists must be able to apply facts and principles to issues to determine conclusions and solve problems. They must use knowledge and logic to find patters in happenings and determine causes and provide solutions.


Must be very compassionate and able to empathize with a patient's pain and other difficulties. They are able to make people feel comfortable and meet them at their emotional level to humanize themselves and let people know they care.


Must be very compassionate and able to empathize with a patient's pain and other difficulties. They are able to make people feel comfortable and meet them at their emotional level to humanize themselves and let people know they care.

Stress Management

Must be emotionally stable and deal with stress effectively, so they can help others who cannot deal with their emotions or stress. Must be a solid foundation and be able to handle stress and separate personal emotion so as to stay objective and be effective in treatment.


Psychiatrists must have a solid ethical code and keep sessions with patients confidential as they can greatly affect people's lives. Must know that there could be consequences for error.


Psychiatrists interact with a range of people from all walks of life, therefore they must be open-minded and tolerant of different cultures and circumstances. Since they are in a research field, they must be open to new studies and findings as to adapt with changing times.


Psychiatrists need to be very patient, because of the long sessions with patients and while doing research to become a better professional. They must understand it takes time to see results and be willing to put in that time.


People have to trust psychiatrists. The job is all about inspiring patients to confide in you and trust you with their problems. If you aren't trustworthy, you will never make it as a psychiatrist.


Working Conditions


Employment opportunities for geriatric psychiatrists may be found in any or all of the following:

  • Long-term care facilities

  • Private or group practices

  • Assisted living centers

  • Veteran’s hospitals or general hospitals

  • Academic institutions

Geriatric psychiatrists who work in inpatient facilities may have to work on-call, nights and weekend assignments.

A geriatric psychiatrist can greatly improve the quality of life for the patients suffering from mental illnesses and their families.

The work can be challenging and richly rewarding. Varied and multiple health concerns must be considered in the treatment plan when providing care to elderly patients.

Geriatric psychiatrists work in close conjunction with patients and their family members and caregivers.



Salary Outlook