Why Should I go for a Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment? We asked NP Debbie Daly in the September Edition of “Ask the NP”.
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My Nurse Practitioner Wants Me to Have a Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment: What is a Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment (CGA), and why would I need one?
Canadians are living longer, and most seniors live healthy and active lives. As we age and our health needs become more complex, there is an increased risk for frailty. Frailty is a state of health where multiple complex health conditions cause a person to have difficulty coping with stressors (physical, emotional, social). This places them at risk for poor health outcomes which include disability, social isolation, hospitalization, loss of independence and possibly death.
A CGA can help in a number of ways. It can help to identify potential risks to independence and health; offer strategies to manage challenges that you are facing to prevent further injury or complication; connect you with resources that provide support; raise issues with you that you may need to consider when planning for your future.
The ultimate goals of a CGA are to help frail seniors maintain independence and health, enhance quality of life, reduce worsening of frailty, and prevent avoidable hospitalizations, helping seniors to stay in their homes for as long as possible.
What Happens in a CGA?
Typically, you and a person who knows you best (your spouse, child, friend, caregiver, etc.) will meet with a team of geriatric specialists (usually a Nurse Practitioner or Geriatrician working with nurses, occupational therapist, pharmacist, physiotherapist, social worker or other interprofessional team members). This meeting can take place in virtually any location: a hospital or community-based clinic, your home, an inpatient unit in a hospital. A CGA is an in-depth assessment that can take a few hours. Often, it is split up over a couple of appointments.
The team works with you to take a look at multiple dimensions of your well-being, for example:
• Your current and past medical conditions
• Medications & supplements (Are you taking too many? Are there any you could stop? Is there an easier/safer way to take them?)
• Function (Can you manage your shopping easily and safely? Have you considered driving retirement, and need info about alternate transportation? Do you prepare meals for yourself?)
• Mobility (How do you get around? Have you been falling?)
• Safety (Home, personal, driving, financial)
• Social situation (Do you live alone? Do you have someone who supports you? Have you begun planning for your future?)
• Thinking and memory (Are you noticing that you’re becoming a bit forgetful? How is your mood?)
The team, typically led by a Nurse Practitioner, Geriatrician or Physician with specialty in geriatric care will work with you and your primary care provider (NP, family doctor) to outline concerns and develop a plan of care to tackle the issues.
A CGA can be a good investment in your health and quality of life.
Written by Debbie Daly RN(EC), MN
Nurse Practitioner, Clinic Lead GAIN Clinic
The Scarborough Hospital, Scarborough ON