The geriatric patient: a systematic approach to maintaining health

Am Fam Physician. 2000 Feb 15;61(4):1089-104.


The number of persons 65 years of age and older continues to increase dramatically in the United States. Comprehensive health maintenance screening of this population is becoming an important task for primary care physicians. As outlined by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, assessment categories unique to elderly patients include sensory perception and injury prevention. Geriatric patients are at higher risk of falling for a number of reasons, including postural hypotension, balance or gait impairment, polypharmacy (more than three prescription medications) and use of sedative-hypnotic medications. Interventional areas that are common to other age groups but have special implications for older patients include immunizations, diet and exercise, and sexuality. Cognitive ability and mental health issues should also be evaluated within the context of the individual patient's social situation-not by screening all patients but by being alert to the occurrence of any change in mental function. Using an organized approach to the varied aspects of geriatric health, primary care physicians can improve the care that they provide for their older patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control
  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / prevention & control
  • Geriatric Assessment*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / standards*
  • Preventive Health Services / standards*
  • Primary Health Care / standards
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensation Disorders / diagnosis
  • Sensation Disorders / prevention & control
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Wounds and Injuries / etiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / prevention & control