EXPERIENCING a rapid growth of its elderly population, the United States finds itself short of professionals trained in geriatric medicine, nursing, social work, and allied disciplines. Knowledge about aging, diseases of the elderly, and their effective diagnosis and treatment is being developed at a snail's pace.
A corrosive pessimism about later life and prejudice against the elderly still persist in many areas of our society, including the health care field. Many elderly persons and their families find scant comfort in the ministrations of health care organizations. Physicians refer but tend not to follow up their patients in the nursing home. The image of the nursing home is scarred by scandal, abuse, ignorance, and fear—an image similar to that of the ancient hospital untouched by science.
It appears that the mainstream of US medicine points away from its most prominent clientele. The nation's 25 million persons aged 65 years and older