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Book and Media Reviews
November 5, 2008

Classic Papers in Geriatric Medicine With Current Commentaries

JAMA. 2008;300(17):2068. doi:10.1001/jama.2008.546

William Osler is quoted as saying in 1905 that men aged 40 years were comparatively useless, while those older than 60 years were fully useless and that “as a matter of course, men stopped work at this age.”1 It is a telling summary of early 20th-century attitudes toward aging. Even 60 years ago, anyone older than 50 was not generally considered a candidate for aggressive medical treatment. Attitudes have changed dramatically. Advances in medicine have helped an entire generation live comfortably into their 80s and 90s. Michael DeBakey died recently at age 99, and many appreciate that his work life did not peter out at age 40, as Osler would have contended it would.

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