What is the difference: Geriatrician or Gerontologist?

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Our team of Aging Life Care Managers happens to have a variety of educational backgrounds.  This is not unusual for other teams of care managers; to have different educational or work backgrounds.  We are often asked what a gerontologist is and how do they differ from a geriatrician.  We are happy to describe that difference for you.

A gerontologist is an individual who has graduated from an accredited college or university with a degree in gerontology: which is the study of the aging process focusing on social, cognitive, and biological aspects.  Their study consists of the development, challenges and effects of an aging population and measures to address and support them.    They say there are approximately 4,000 gerontologists in America.  They typically work in fields of nutrition, kinesiology, care management, public health and research.  Many physicians who specialize in the research of older adults will call themselves gerontologists.

Aging Advisors PDX Care Managers

Geriatricians are physician experts in pioneering advanced illness care for older people, with a focus on championing interprofessional teams, eliciting personal care goals, and treating older people as a whole person.  According to the American Geriatric Society, there are currently 6,910 certified geriatricians. 3,590 of those geriatricians are currently licensed to practice in the United States. Approximately 70 in the Portland Oregon metropolitan area and approximately 20  in the Vancouver Washington area.

Research shows that 30% of people 65-years-old and older need care from a geriatrician and that each geriatrician can care for up to 700 patients. This translates to a larger demand for geriatricians—both nationally and regionally across the U.S.  Our team consists of a variety of professionals, including gerontologists.  Please consider working with an aging life care manager when thinking about your older adult.


Joyce Sjoberg

Aging Life Care Manager

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