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Geriatric Assessments

A geriatric assessment is a holistic, comprehensive evaluation designed to assess an older adult's functional ability, physical health, cognition, mental health and environment. It differs from a typical medical evaluation by including a number of non-medical issues, emphasizing functional capacity and quality of life in addition to medical concerns, and relying on a multidisciplinary team.

The goal of the assessment is to create a coordinated plan to improve an older adult's quality of life and health and anticipate future medical, social and emotional needs.

A geriatric assessment may be led by any physician, social worker or geriatric care manager, but is often coordinated by a geriatrician, a physician with additional training and specialization in the care and treatment of older adults. He or she coordinates a team of specialists who perform the assessment to evaluate the person's physical, cognitive, social, financial, environmental, spiritual, health and wellbeing.

The core team may include clinicians, nurses and social workers. An extended team may involve therapists, nutritionists, pharmacists, psychologists and other health professionals.

Eligibility Criteria 

Health care professionals determine that a geriatric assessment would be beneficial when certain problems are detected and can be indicated when one of the following occurs:

  • A previous physician or specialist has predicted the individual will require a high amount of healthcare services and supports
  • The person:
    • Has a diagnosis of Alzheimer's or similar dementia
    • Has a functional disability
    • Is prone to falling
    • Is experiencing feelings of depression, social isolation or has other psychosocial disorders
    • Is considering a change in a living situation, such as from independent living to a nursing home

Services and Fees

  1. Gathering data through questionnaires, in-person observation or medical instruments
  2. Discussion among team members, with the person and family members and caregivers involved
  3. Collaboration among all parties to develop a care plan that ensures the individual, family and care providers are all on the same page regarding health care, living arrangements and their respective roles
  4. Implementation of the care plan
  5. Monitoring the effectiveness of the care plan and anticipating changes needed
  6. Continual revision of the care plan to address problems as they arise

Geriatric assessments may be performed in a variety of settings including in-home, clinics, hospitals or nursing homes. In recent years, these assessments have shifted to be more problem-directed. Persons with many concerns may undergo a 'rolling' assessment where evaluation takes place over several visits. People may also complete questionnaires to save time and provide useful data. A virtual team, where specialists communicate and develop a care plan electronically, may also be available.

Find in Your Area

Visit 2-1-1 to find a geriatric assessment center or a list of geriatricians near you.

For assessments for older adults with Down Syndrome, contact the Dorothy Adler Geriatric Assessment Center. Visit their website here or call 203-688-6361.

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