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Prim Care. 2005 Sep;32(3):619-43.

Incremental geriatric assessment.

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  • 1Geriatric Education Center of Michigan, Michigan State University, 4900 Zimmer Road, Williamston, MI 48895, USA.


Older adults value (1) independence and the ability to make their own decisions, (2) mobility (the ability to travel outside or simply inside the home), (3) family and friends and the time spent with those persons who are important to them, (4) ethnicity, religion, and spirituality, and (5) home, wherever that might be. The importance of recognizing each person's individuality cannot be overemphasized. The method of incremental assessment presented in this article and summarized in Box 9 is intended to provide the office-based clinician with sufficient information to make decisions regarding the preventive, therapeutic, rehabilitative, and supportive goals of care. IADL and nutritional triggers are used to identify early signs of dysfunction in the home environment. The strengths and weaknesses of cognitive, physical, psychosocial, and spiritual aspects of function are examined in an incremental manner. Health care providers determine whether there is a match between the person's functional capabilities, the available support network, and the home environment. The approach prompts appropriate use of services needed by older adults who are either at risk for becoming, or already are, chronically ill, disabled, and functionally dependent. Use of validated assessment tools provides structure for the assessment process, helps assure consistency, and provides a mechanism for periodic re-evaluation. The assessment approaches also foster a common language for the health care team and consist of measurable parameters that can be used to monitor outcomes. The clinician should be flexible and realize that the assessment or the tools may need to be modified depending on the circumstances.

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