New Tool Enables Quicker Assessment of Geriatric Syndromes

March 23, 2017
Perry Gwen Meyers,

The core of geriatric care has long been the geriatric assessment, which is often a time-consuming, complex effort. Researchers at St. Louis University recently developed a new screening tool to expedite and simplify this assessment. The Rapid Geriatric Assessment (RGA) takes 5-10 minutes to administer, and screens for frailty, sarcopenia, anorexia of aging, and cognitive impairment. The assessment also includes a question concerning the completion of an advance directive. The RGA is described in “Rapid Geriatric Assessment: A Tool for Primary Care Physicians,” an article in the March issue of JAMDA.

Based on very brief questionnaires that have been validated in 3 or more continents, the RGA has been shown to be useable by a variety of health care professionals. To date, it has been used successfully with more than 3,500 people in Missouri. A computerized algorithm to guide the management of the geriatric syndromes assessed for by the RGA is currently being developed and tested. St. Louis University already has a series of informational handouts on these topics for patients and caregivers that highlight appropriate referrals and lifestyle measures they can take to address each syndrome.

The RGA is key and should be viewed as routine when treating older adults, similar to checking blood pressure, say the authors. It has “been proven to reduce disability, hospitalizations, and institutionalization, and improve quality of life.” The RGA holds promise as a means of conducting successful assessments in a much shorter, more efficient time period.

For more information on all of the findings above, and more, click here. To contact the researchers or JAMDA Editor for interview contact