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October 22, 1997

Aging and Caring

Author Affiliations

Baltimore, Md

JAMA. 1997;278(16):1384. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550160108056

I was invited to present a lecture to a class of graduate nurses who were studying the "Psychosocial Aspects of Aging." I started my lecture with the following case presentation: The patient is a white female who appears her reported age. She neither speaks nor comprehends the spoken word. Sometimes she babbles incoherently for hours on end. She is disoriented about person, place, and time. She does, however, seem to recognize her own name. I have worked with her for the past 6 months, but she still does not recognize me.

She shows complete disregard for her physical appearance and makes no effort whatsoever to assist in her own care. She must be fed, bathed, and clothed by others. Because she is edentulous, her food must be puréed, and because she is incontinent of both urine and stool, she must be changed and bathed often. Her shirt is generally soiled