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The Assessment and Treatment of Geezers

Loren Pankratz, PhD; Lial Kofoed, MD
JAMA. 1988;259(8):1228-1229. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03720080062029.
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WEBSTER'S defines a geezer as an odd or eccentric man. We write about geezers because they have predictable and understandable problems when forced into the health care system. We hope to promote an appreciation for their rich life histories and idiosyncratic charm.

Survivors of the dust bowl and the Great Depression endured hardships unimaginable to the young physician. The geezer is the rural or working-class man who emerged from these adverse circumstances with a fierce independence blazed from solving problems with his own hands. Like an old oak, he is strong and rigid but brittle. He may collapse suddenly when the storms of serious illness overwhelm his self-sufficiency.

The geezer has limited formal education, and he is unimpressed by diplomas and certificates. He has his own idea of competence, dismissing house staff with uncanny accuracy as "whippersnappers." After cogitating our advice, he does what he damned well pleases. He is


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