It is usually initiated when the physician identifies a potential problem.
Specific elements of physical health that are evaluated include nutrition, vision, hearing, fecal and urinary continence, and balance.
The geriatric assessment aids in the diagnosis of medical conditions; development of treatment and follow-up plans; coordination of management of care; and evaluation of long-term care needs and optimal placement.
The geriatric assessment differs from a standard medical evaluation by including nonmedical domains; by emphasizing functional capacity and quality of life; and, often, by incorporating a multidisciplinary team.
It usually yields a more complete and relevant list of medical problems, functional problems, and psychosocial issues. Well-validated tools and survey instruments for evaluating activities of daily living, hearing, fecal and urinary continence, balance, and cognition are an important part of the geriatric assessment.
Because of the demands of a busy clinical practice, most geriatric assessments tend to be less comprehensive and more problem-directed. When multiple concerns are presented, the use of a "rolling" assessment over several visits should be considered.