According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the rate of growth of the elderly population--defined as individuals age 65 or greater--increased by a factor of 11 in the past century, from 3 million in 1900 to 33 million in 1994. During the same time period, the total population only tripled. By the year 2030, there will be about 72 million older persons, or roughly 1 in 5 among the American population--more than twice their number in 2000. Clearly, geriatrics is a topic of vital interest and importance to policy makers, medical providers, caregivers, and members of the general population.

In this book, lifelong writer Carol Leth Stone presents a forum that allows readers to understand how one "comes to terms" with aging using real-life examples of healthcare problems, economic traps, and emotional difficulties such as grieving or feelings of isolation. "Geriatrics" is approachable and easy-to-read, but also accurate and authoritative.


Concern about medicine and services for the elderly has grown in recent years, along with the increase in life expectancy in developed countries. As a result, the medical specialty known as geriatrics has become ever more important. In addition, researchers are carrying out studies of the elderly in the science called gerontology.

Physicians and scientists may seem to be the main actors in geriatric care and studies, but the elderly need to take responsibility for themselves in some matters and to seek reliable help for others. In a technological era when even many of the very old use the World Wide Web and communicate with e-mail and texting, it is possible to educate oneself to a large extent and to take charge of health and other issues.

Although we may avoid thinking about age-related issues when we are young, at some point—such as when we are invited to join the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) at age 50—we all begin to do so. In my own case, years of caregiving and then becoming a widow in my mid-60s greatly focused my attention on issues of aging. Besides that, during the writing of this book, my mother died at the age of 101 years. I had been intimately involved in every aspect of her care for several years.

Dealing with aging can be bewildering, for ourselves or on behalf of others. We need to work with physicians to ensure good medical care; to be aware of financial and legal traps; to assert ourselves when younger people condescend to us; and to handle a myriad of other large and small issues. It is my hope that this reference will be of some help to those who need it— to the elderly and their health care providers.

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