Geriatric Physical Therapist

Help elderly patients move around and be active to stay healthy.
picture of Geriatric Physical Therapist

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$54,000 – $108,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Geriatric Physical Therapists do?

Though getting old gives one the right to say and do pretty much anything, it does come with some downsides. One of the biggest is decreased physical abilities. Geriatric Physical Therapists work with elderly patients to help improve their mobility and activity level.

When you work as a Geriatric Physical Therapist, you have a few different options when it comes to workplaces and the types of patients you can see. Some Geriatric Physical Therapists work in hospitals, helping patients directly out of surgery to improve their strength so they can go home. Others work in patients’ homes to help them improve their mobility or strength for everyday chores. Nursing and inpatient facilities also hire you; in these places, you can find yourself leading either group or individual sessions.

Like a regular Physical Therapist, you first do an assessment to find out exactly what kind of help your client needs. You then create an individualized care plan with clear goals to work on their weaknesses. Since you’re working with older clients, your goals are often fairly basic, like improving arm strength so one can pull oneself out of a deep chair or building the muscles necessary to roll over. Typical activities that you assign include leg lifts, arm raises, and coordination exercises.

You keep in mind that you’re working with the elderly, not Professional Athletes. Your clients will have limitations that you’ll need to prepare for in your sessions. These limitations include things like increased injury risk, greater fatigue, and slower walking abilities.

Should I be a Geriatric Physical Therapist?

You should have a master's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.
  • Helpful: You always keep an eye out for what other people need.

  • How to Become a
    Geriatric Physical Therapist

    Most Geriatric Physical Therapists have a Doctorate or a Master's degree. Start by getting your Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:aaar9m&chl=|||bachelor%27s+%2830%25%29|master%27s+%2843%25%29|doctorate+%2827%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,0,43
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