The Portal of Geriatrics Online Education

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Functional Assessment in the Older Adult

Functional Assessment in the Older Adult

University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
E. Gordon Margolin, MPH, Elizabeth Gothelf, MPH, Gregg Warshaw, MPH
AAMC/John A. Hartford Foundation
John A. Hartford Foundation
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This small group exercise, Functional Assessment, is designed for medical students during their clinical training and is taught in a four-hour session during their family medicine clerkship. Using standardized patients, 12 to 14 students rotate each month, with all 160 students completing the rotation over the academic year. One geriatrician observes 2 students assessing one standardized patient via video-cam, and after the assessment, the students assemble to develop a care plan guided by a geriatrician. For the purposes of validating the information gleaned in the initial assessment, this exercise is followed by a demonstration interview with the patient and her daughter (who provides conflicting information) and, finally the daughter alone. This exercise is completed with a care plan based on the information gathered from the daughter, and then the students are introduced to physical and occupational therapy.

Educational objectives: 

1. Describe the standard tools used in a comprehensive functional assessment. 2. Observe and use the standard tools while engaging in a functional assessment of a standardized patient. Learners should be able to: 1. Understand the importance of validating information gathered during the functional assessment with significant people who are involved in the older patient's life. 2. Outline ways in which a functional assessment can be condensed and incorporated in the clinic or office setting. 3. Describe and demonstrate the roles of the occupational and physical therapist in the care of the older patient who is experiencing physical and/or cognitive deficits. And, as a corollary know how to prescribe a consultation and/or assistive devices. 4. Define functional assessment and its influence on determining the prognosis, care planning and level of care of the older declining patient. 5. Identify the aspects of the traditional medical history that are essential components of the functional assessment.

Additional information/Special implementation requirements or guidelines: 

160 Third-Year Undergrads per year for 2 years in a Medical School Class. Requires trained simulated patients and one daughter. Facilitator must be familiar with Geriatric Assessment models and methods to shorten the lengthy comprehensive assessment to match office schedules. PT and OT personnel to elaborate on their roles in assisting the elderly individual with approaches and appropriate aids.

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Already Expired Email Date: 
Tuesday, February 27, 2018 - 4:06pm
Already Expired Email 1 month date: 
Thursday, March 15, 2018 - 12:33am
Expired Email Date: 
Friday, March 30, 2018 - 5:21am
Contact Person/Corresponding Author:
Elizabeth Gothelf

Suggested Citation:
E. Gordon Margolin, Elizabeth Gothelf and Gregg Warshaw. Functional Assessment in the Older Adult. POGOe - Portal of Geriatrics Online Education; 2006 Available from:


Submitted by zhurd on

This product is largely an outline of a group exercise and is not, like some of the other products, a self-contained unit.  Products which are outlines are harder to evaluate since their success will be much more dependent on the actual instructor or facilitator. The outlining materials themselves are good, but again, do not provide a solid enough base to really assess their efficacy.

Submitted by K_Callahan on

Standardized patient experience stressing the importance of history taking across multiple people and the benefits of a functional assessment; teaches about working on an interdisciplinary team to assess a patient. Would require faculty development to put into action.