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June 18, 1982

Intensive Treatment for the Elderly

Author Affiliations

George Washington University Medical Center Washington, DC

JAMA. 1982;247(23):3186. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320480013011

To the Editor.—  I read the article regarding the medical intensive care services for the elderly. The authors stress the high mortality and possible irreversible damage to the quality of life associated with this type of treatment. Hospice care is proposed as perhaps a better alternative. This conclusion is rather surprising and is contradictory, in my opinion, to presented data.Most studied elderly survivors demanded care that was no more expensive than the younger group. The nonsurvivors required even less expensive care. Most elderly have returned to their homes and continued to live there a year after discharge. The quality of their lives, according to the authors, could not be measured by the study. Therefore, the authors' pessimistic outlook on the value of intensive care for the elderly seems to be based only on the expected observation, ie, higher mortality of the elderly in ICUs.This observation can be made