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October 25, 1995

The 'Nursing' in Nursing Homes

Author Affiliations

Fort Wayne, Ind

JAMA. 1995;274(16):1268. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530160020022

To the Editor.  —Dr Kane's1 essay on long-term care states, in the abstract, "Nursing home care... has been neglected by physicians." And so it should be. The proper focus of physicians is on the treatment and prevention of illness. Debilitated elderly people should no more be considered ipso facto ill than should pregnant women, though anyone in either group may contract an illness. Equating age to illness is the medicalization of a social problem, and the cost of care should not come out of the nation's medical budget. Seventy-five years ago, many of the elderly died at home, indicating that people did not consider the demise of the elderly as a problem to be managed by physicians.The nursing care of the elderly is quite properly within the purview of the nursing profession. Nursing, by definition, consists of the physical and psychological care of persons who cannot care for

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