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Psychiatry and the elderly: an overview
Am J Psychiatry 1975;132:893-900.
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Abstract

The author notes that the elderly in our society have not been provided with treatment, research, and services commensurate with their needs. These needs are reflected in the increasing incidence of psychopathology, suicide, and poverty with increasing age. The psychiatric profession's therapeutic nihilism toward the elderly may reflect unresolved countertransference issues that result in a form of prejudice called "ageism." Many of the conditions labeled "senility" are actually manifestations of socioeconomic or medical problems that could be resolved with prompt, appropriate treatment. The author makes several recommendations--the creation of a multidisciplinary nongovernmental commission on mental health and illness of the elderly, reexamination by psychiatrists of their attitudes toward the elderly, and proportionate representation of older individuals in psychiatric services, training, and research.

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