Monday, January 3, 2011

Geriatric assessment tools

The editors of AFP recognize the importance of providing family physicians with clinical information and tools relevant to the care of older patients. Our AFP By Topic collection on Geriatric Care contains links to content on general screening and prevention, as well as up-to-date guidance on managing specific issues such as elder abuse, falls, home care, and adverse drug events. Also, the inaugural print issue of 2011 features a review of the geriatric assessment by Drs. Bassem Elsawy and Kim Higgins. The authors explain why this type of structured evaluation is specific to older patients:

The geriatric assessment differs from a typical medical evaluation by including nonmedical domains; by emphasizing functional capacity and quality of life; and, often, by incorporating a multidisciplinary team including a physician, nutritionist, social worker, and physical and occupational therapists. This type of assessment often yields a more complete and relevant list of medical problems, functional problems, and psychosocial issues.

In addition to describing the essential components of the geriatric assessment, the article contains tools for assessing independence in activities of daily living, a nutritional health checklist, and brief instruments to detect hearing and cognitive impairment.

As more primary care practices transition to electronic medical record systems, we recognize that print may not necessarily be the most useful format for many readers. What do you think we could do to make point-of-care tools, tables, and figures more accessible in your practice setting? We invite you to submit comments or suggestions on this blog, our Facebook page, or by e-mail at