There’s a shift underway in improving medical care for elderly

(ABC NEWS) – Climbing a flight of stairs, sweeping the floors, driving.

These tasks may seem trivial, but for the elderly, the simple activities of daily life are markers of independence.

And today, the American Heart Association released a new statement — telling doctors to focus on that functional ability when it comes to assessing heart health.

As you get older, they say, things like strength, balance, mobility and frailty offer a better picture of your health than traditional medical tests.

And all of these help avoid problems that the elderly fear: falls, disability, or hospitalizations.

This means doctors have to shift their focus to giving quick physical and cognitive tests right in the check-up clinic to look at quality of life, to asking questions about how their older patients are doing in daily living, household chores, getting out of a chair, getting dressed.

The key is repeating the tests, and making sure your elderly relatives are getting that routine monitoring, so the doctor knows how health is changing over time.

So for the older folks out there, the doctor may soon ask you to stand and walk across the room. It may be a better test than taking your blood pressure.

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