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What does a geriatrician do?

4-minute read

What does a geriatrician do?

A geriatrician is a specialist doctor who cares for people over the age of 65.

What training has a geriatrician had?

A geriatrician has completed at least 3 years of specialist training in geriatric medicine after becoming a doctor.

In Australia, most geriatricians are fellows of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, with the initials FRACP after their name.

What conditions do geriatricians treat?

Some older adults have complex health needs. They might have many medical problems and use different types of medicine. They are also more likely to be frail, to have falls, and to have conditions like dementia or heart disease.

Most geriatricians have expertise in dealing with people who have multiple conditions. Some of them specialise in particular areas, including dementia and rehabilitation.

Geriatricians might help manage:

  • dementia and other cognitive problems
  • problems with mobility and frailty
  • incontinence
  • nutrition
  • medicines
  • other medical issues

If you are seeing a geriatrician, they should conduct a comprehensive assessment to help them understand your physical and mental condition, as well as your social situation.

They might refer you to other specialists and to support services.

They might also put together a management plan or healthcare plan to help keep you as healthy and as independent as possible.

Where do they work?

Geriatricians work in hospitals, clinics and residential aged care facilities. They might also visit people in their homes.

How do I find a geriatrician?

Ask your doctor, close friends or family to recommend a good geriatrician. You can also use healthdirect's service finder to find a geriatrician near you.

How much will a geriatrician cost?

The costs for a geriatrician vary greatly, depending on the type of care you receive, whether it’s in hospital, whether you have private health insurance, and on what the geriatrician charges.

Out of hospital care

If you see a geriatrician in their rooms, then Medicare will cover:

  • all costs if they bulk bill
  • some of the costs if they don't bulk bill

You can't use any private health insurance for out of hospital care.

Treatment in a public hospital using Medicare

If you are treated in a public hospital or clinic and use Medicare, it is free. Medicare covers all costs.

Treatment in hospital using private health insurance

If you use private health insurance to be treated in either a public hospital or a private hospital or clinic, you will be charged by the geriatrician and by the hospital. You might also be charged for pathology tests, x-rays and other forms of imaging, and by other doctors you see. Your private health insurance will cover some of these costs.

Asking about costs

It can be expensive to see specialists.

Before you go for the first time, ask the geriatrician or their staff about the costs. You should also ask what Medicare will cover.

If you plan to use private health insurance, you can also contact your health fund.

If the costs are too high, you can:

  • ask the geriatrician or their staff about a reduction
  • consider another geriatrician or health service
  • talk to your GP about any other options

It is important to get a referral from your doctor to see the geriatrician. That way, your doctor can pass on useful information, and the geriatrician can later tell your doctor about your visit. If you don't have a referral, neither Medicare nor private health insurance will contribute to the cost of your care.

More information

  • My Aged Care has information on help and support for older Australians. Call 1800 200 422.
  • The Australian Government's Services Australia (formerly the Department of Human Services) website has information about healthcare and payments for older Australians.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: August 2020

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