Elderly Vs Geriatrics, What’s the Difference?

Elderly Vs Geriatrics, What’s the Difference?


Old age is synonymous with an increased risk of health problems. However, not everyone who enters the sunset years have a condition that needs to be treated in hospital. In the medical field, there is a geriatric term that relates to elderly patients. There are some differences between the elderly and geriatrics even though the meaning is almost the same. People need to know the differences, especially if they decide to have an elderly caregiver for their family.

What Does Elderly Mean?

To date, the term elderly is often used to refer to people who appear to be old. For example, people who already have grandchildren, white hair, wrinkled skin, all that indicates that the person is old. However, there is no medical standard to determine when a person can be considered elderly.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines the elderly as people aged 60 years and over. The Indonesian government through Law Number 13 of 1998 concerning Elderly Welfare also sets the same age limit for the elderly. But there are also a number of organizations that state the age limit for the elderly is 65 years.

The definition of the elderly is necessary so that people in this group can enjoy the same well-being as younger people. This is because the elderly is a vulnerable group. As people age, they are generally more at risk of having health problems. Family and community efforts are needed to help older people lead healthy and quality lives, including with the help of elderly caregivers or nurses.

What Is Geriatric Syndrome?

Geriatrics is a medical specialty focused on elderly health services. The purpose of this service is to promote the health of older people by preventing and treating illnesses and disabilities in the elderly. Older people are susceptible to developing geriatric syndrome, which can impair quality of life.

Geriatric syndrome is a variety of symptoms that are more common among the elderly than other age groups. In the Oxford Textbook of Geriatric Medicine, it is explained that geriatric syndrome is characterized by the simultaneous occurrence of several disorders. There are at least seven kinds of disorders or symptoms that often become geriatric syndromes:

  • Bladder management issues (involuntary urination)
  • Sleep problems (difficulty sleeping)
  • Delirium (severe confusion)
  • Dementia (impaired cognitive function, including memory, communication, and thinking)
  • Falls (older people tend to fall easily due to decreased coordination and body balance)
  • Osteoporosis (porous bones)
  • Weight loss due to various reasons related to old age

Geriatric syndrome is the main cause of deterioration in the quality of life of the elderly. The caregivers and families need to understand this condition in order to maintain their quality of life all the way until the end of their lives.

How to Be a Healthy and Strong Older Person

A common illness like the flu is very likely to turn into a more serious medical problem in older people. But that doesn’t mean old people can’t be healthy and strong. There are several ways to try, such as:

  • Live an active lifestyle through sports and social activities. The more you move, the stronger your immune system will be in fighting infections and inflammation.
  • Eat healthy foods with balanced nutrition. Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants that can protect your body’s cells from damage.
  • Manage stress because stress triggers the production of the hormone cortisol which, in excessive amounts, can interfere with various body functions, including the immune system.
  • Make sure you get enough sleep, as sleep allows your body to recover, including improving memory and concentration.
  • Follow a clean-living lifestyle.
  • Get regular check-ups at least once a year to detect any illness early and improve your chances of recovery.
  • Keep in touch with your family and others and try to stay happy.

Studies show that happiness and relationships with others also affect an older person’s health. Therefore, remember to maintain communication, especially with your family, and do activities that keep you happy.

Tips for Staying Active and Smart in Old Age

The brain is part of the central nervous system that controls the body and tends to deteriorate in older people. The elderly can maintain activeness and intelligence by training the brain, among others by:

  • Socialize, for example by actively participating in certain group activities.
  • Relax your body and mind, for instance by meditating regularly, doing yoga, or listening to relaxing music.
  • Exercise regularly because exercise can increase the brain-derived neurotrophic factor protein which is important for the maintenance and development of nerves.
  • Have a healthy diet. A Mediterranean diet menu that includes fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts and olive oil, for example, may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in older people.
  • Ensure quality sleep 7 to 8 hours a day. If you don’t get enough sleep during young age, there is a risk of memory problems in old age

Tips to be a Good Caregiver or Nurse for the Elderly

Caring for the elderly is a task that requires geriatric skills and knowledge. The American Geriatrics Society’s Health in Aging Foundation offers tips on how to be a good caregiver or nurse for the elderly:

  • Build the confidence of the caregivers so that they are excited about undergoing treatment and believe the treatment is beneficial to them.
  • Show affection, for example by talking to them often or preparing their favorite food/drink.
  • Avoid unnecessary gestures, such as saying “just ask me if you need something”. Instead, immediately take the initiative to provide concrete assistance without being asked.
  • Make sure they feel they are getting the social support they need for care.
  • Remember to take care of yourself, because only by taking good care of yourself you can provide optimal care.

Caring for the elderly is not an easy task and may increase the mental burden. One way to reduce the mental burden is to consider elderly care as a positive experience.

What’s the Difference Between Assisted-Living Home, Senior Home, and Nursing Home

For the elderly care, assisted-living home, senior home, and nursing homes often become the options. The main difference between the three lies in the condition of the elderly who are being treated and the service facilities. In general, assisted-living home care for the elderly who do not have serious health problems. The senior home is a residential complex that can be chosen by the elderly to rest or enjoy retirement. Senior home residents can access a variety of services designed exclusively to support retirement. The elderly who live in senior homes are generally in good health.

Meanwhile, a nursing home is a facility designed for the elderly who have more serious health conditions. The elderly usually live in nursing homes because they do need medical care. Therefore, there are trained medical personnel in the nursing home. The presence of trained elderly caregivers is necessary to provide optimal health care for their conditions.

Reviewed by:
Ditinjau oleh:

Dr. Eddy Wiria, PhD

Co-Founder & CEO Kavacare