Helping the elderly stay active: a technique for detecting disability in the primary care office.

B. K. Keller, J. F. Potter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The inability to perform essential activities of daily living such as cooking, shopping, dressing and bathing is termed functional disability. These deficits can prevent elders from enjoying independent, active lifestyles. The development of functional disability is a gradual process. Early identification and intervention by the primary care physician can often reduce functional decline. Screening for functional decline has traditionally been performed by either questionnaire or direct observation of tasks. This paper reviews methods which have been proposed to integrate functional disability screening into office practice. A method which incorporates both questionnaire and direct observation is recommended by the authors. The method of screening proposed targets specific areas prone to dysfunction. It focuses on simple screens of vision, hearing, arm and leg function, urinary incontinence, mental status, depression, nutrition, activities of daily living, environmental hazards, and social support systems. Appropriate methods of follow up evaluation and treatment are provided. This fifteen minute technique is a practical and applicable means of screening elderly patients for functional deficits in the primary care office.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4-10
Number of pages7
JournalThe Nebraska medical journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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