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May 10, 1941

PSYCHIATRIC GERIATRICSTHE POSSIBILITIES IN THE TREATMENT OF MENTAL STATES OF OLD AGE

Author Affiliations

KANSAS CITY, MO.

JAMA. 1941;116(19):2139-2141. doi:10.1001/jama.1941.02820190015005
Abstract

Geriatrics is the science of the treatment of diseases of old age. In the days of straight pathologic interpretation, this branch of medicine was neglected almost entirely because of the belief that arteriosclerosis and/or senile atrophy were the sole and only causes of the presented symptoms.

Senile organic changes are both progressive and irreversible. If the changes were causing the symptoms, the only thing for the physician to do would be to control the symptoms, and the only objective of society would be to provide care and custody for those whose mental faculties have been disturbed or destroyed by these pathologic developments. These concepts have led to a pessimistic outlook, by both physicians and laymen, and to a disinterest in geriatrics as a constructive branch of therapeutics.

The most distressing developments of old age are the mental symptoms. If the mental symptoms are interpreted as straight pathologic developments they are

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