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Why Screen for Functional Disability in Elderly Persons?

Mark E. Williams, MD
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Dr. Williams is a member of the American College of Physicians Subcommittee on Aging.

Ann Intern Med. 1990;112(9):639-640. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-112-9-639
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Function, the ability to manage daily routines, is a major concern of the elderly patient. Functional assessment, therefore, is an integral part of proper geriatric care. But an older person's ability to manage everyday routines cannot be determined confidently from the names of the diseases he or she may have or from the length of the problem list. For example, an octogenarian with systolic hypertension, congestive heart failure, maturity-onset diabetes mellitus, severe osteoarthritis, and frequent urinary tract infections and with a past history of a femoral fracture, might be an active political leader, a vigorous community volunteer, or a severely


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