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Why a Senior Assessment Might Be Right for You

Posted 7/11/2018 by UHBlog

The older you get, the more complicated caring for yourself can become, especially if you have health care concerns, mobility issues and/or cognitive problems. Talk to us about how a senior assessment can help.

Senior couple visiting a doctor Your annual physical exam is important. But depending on your age, you may need a more comprehensive examination than your primary care physician can provide.

That’s where a senior assessment can help.

A senior assessment provides a comprehensive, multidisciplinary evaluation to identify specific issues in older adults. The assessment is done in cooperation with your regular doctor.

“A comprehensive assessment covers a lot of areas that your doctor doesn’t typically have time for during your routine physical,” says internal medicine and gerontology specialist Kathleen Rogers, MD.

The assessment usually is triggered by a need identified by a patient’s doctor, a family member or even somebody else in the community, she says.

“Sometimes an older adult is having social problems, or has some safety issues at home,” she says. “A senior assessment is an opportunity to take an all-around look at what problems a person may be having and to find a solution.”

A Multidisciplinary Team

The assessment typically takes about two hours, Dr. Rogers says. A multidisciplinary team of specialists conducts the assessment, whose members include:

  • A board-certified geriatric physician
  • A clinical social worker
  • A geriatric psychiatrist
  • An occupational therapist
  • A pharmacist
  • A physical therapist
  • A social worker

The goal of the assessment is to identify specific issues such as:

  • Complex medical problems
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Difficulties performing daily activities
  • Medical management issues
  • Unsafe driving
  • Falls
  • Memory loss or confusion
  • Personality or behavioral changes

In addition, the assessment team can identify whether an older adult is able to live independently and, if necessary, make recommendations for safe and healthy living arrangements.

After the Appointment

Sometime after the assessment, the occupational therapist makes a home visit to assess the environment.

“Many people are concerned whether their parents are safe to live in their own homes,” Dr. Rogers says. “The occupational therapist is concerned with fall risks and other safety concerns, for example, does the person need to have a shower chair or a safety rail installed?”

Following the home visit, a family meeting is scheduled to review the assessment and share the team’s recommendations, Dr. Rogers says.

“It’s entirely up to the patient and his or her family whether they are going follow the recommendations," she says.

Not Just for Seniors

Although the program is geared to older adults, Dr. Rogers says patients as young as in their 40s have undergone the assessment. The assessment typically is paid by insurance and is offered once for each person.

“We try to explore alternative therapies that are not prescription-based,” Dr. Rogers says. “Our goal is for each patient to be as independent and happy as possible, but also as safe as possible.”

The Norma N. Chapman Senior Assessment Program is located at University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center in Chardon, Ohio. For more information, call 440-285-7757.

Kathleen Rogers, MD is an internal medicine and gerontology specialist at University Hospitals Geauga Health Center and UH Concord Primary Care. You can request an appointment with Dr. Rogers or any other doctor online.

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