What is “geriatric?”

Geriatric refers to the older adult population. The “older adult population” has been variously defined via chronological age groups, sometimes including those over the age of 55, sometimes 65, etc., and is comprised of highly diverse individuals who should not be treated as one monolithic group. What one older adult wants or needs may be quite different than another, and that is particularly the case when it comes to mental and behavioral health. While most older adults prefer not to use the term “geriatric” to describe themselves, the term is often used and accepted in clinical practice and research.

What is behavioral health?

Behavioral health is an umbrella term and refers to a continuum of services for individuals at risk of, or suffering from, mental, behavioral, or addictive disorders.  Behavioral health, as a discipline, refers to mental health, psychiatric, marriage and family counseling, and addictions treatment, and includes services most commonly provided by social workers, psychologists, nurse practitioners, psychiatrists, and physicians. In geriatric behavioral health, other disciplines are also frequently integrated into one’s treatment plan in a holistic fashion and could include physical therapists, occupational therapists, dieticians, etc.

What are mental health issues or disorders?

Mental illness/behavioral health disorders (also known as mental disorders) are health conditions that are characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior (or some combination thereof), that is mediated by the brain and associated with distress and/or impaired functioning. Mental disorders cause a host of problems that may include personal distress, impaired functioning and disability, pain, or even death (especially if untreated). Trainings are also offered by GeroPartners to assist others in understanding these issues and how to manage them.

What are substance abuse issues or disorders?

Substance abuse is the problematic use of alcohol or drugs occurring when an individual’s use of alcohol or drugs interferes with one’s functioning most often in the areas of physical health, personal relationships (e.g., family, friends) and obligations, and work.

What are the differences between Social Workers, Clinical Psychologists, and Psychiatrists?

Social Workers: Social workers help individuals, families, and groups restore or enhance their capacity for social functioning, and work to create societal conditions that support communities in need. Social workers help people of all backgrounds address their own needs through psychosocial services and advocacy.  They perform psychotherapy, case management, evaluations, and a variety of other services aimed at helping individuals in need.  Clinical social workers most often possess a graduate degree called a Masters of Social Work, or MSW, and independent practitioners must hold a state-issued license to practice.

Clinical Psychologists: Clinical psychologists are healthcare professionals that use knowledge of emotion, behavior and thought processes to help alleviate distress and promote behavioral change.  They conduct psychotherapy, evaluations, and consultations with other professionals to manage behavioral health issues experienced by clients.  Clinical psychologists hold a doctoral degree (Psy.D. or Ph.D.) and must possess a state-issued license to practice independently.  Psychologists do not prescribe medications in Virginia, instead focusing on managing behavioral health issues with non-drug treatments.

Psychiatrists: Psychiatrists are physicians with a medical degree (MD or DO) who have specialized in mental health.  Most often psychiatrists prescribe and manage medications for various types of behavioral health issues, including depression, anxiety, and more serious forms of mental illness.   Although some perform psychotherapy, most psychiatrists limit their practice to medication management.

What is Geriatric Care Management (GCM)?

Geriatric care management is a person-centered approach to providing guidance and assistance to older adults and their families.  Geriatric care managers are focused on helping to preserve the older person’s current level of functioning and addressing quality of life issues for the older adult and their family members.  Geriatric care managers have knowledge and experience in issues related to aging and elder care, and may be trained in one of many human service fields, such as social work, nursing, psychology, or gerontology.

Geriatric care managers assess strengths and needs, assist individuals and families with planning and problem-solving, provide education and advocacy, and coach families on how to best care for their family member.

Does GeroPartners prescribe and manage medications?

No, though GeroPartners professionals work closely with prescribing professionals (physicians, nurse practitioners, etc.) to help manage issues a client is experiencing.  GeroPartners can perform ongoing client monitoring and will always collaborate with all healthcare professionals to develop and carry out the right plans for the client.

Does GeroPartners work with families?

Yes.  GeroPartners professionals are available to meet with family members of clients for support, education, or intervention around issues of the older adult client.  (For example, an older adult’s illness that is impacting the entire family’s relationships) GeroPartners does not provide services for non-geriatric clients at this time (for example, a 35-year-old having relationship problems), though if a need for services for a younger adult becomes evident we will make the appropriate referral to a colleague in the area who can provide such services.

Does my insurance cover services provided by GeroPartners?

GeroPartners accepts most major insurances, including Medicare and Medicaid, for covered psychological services.