Coincident with the increasing longevity of the general population, physicians are faced with the care of an increasing number of elderly patients with mental and emotional problems which are, in part, peculiar to the period of senescence. The problems of geriatric mental illness and senility are especially profound for the state hospitals.
In Minnesota in 1940 approximately 8% of the general population were 65 years of age or older. By 1955 an estimated 10% of the general population fell in the same age category. Whereas in 1940, 0.8% of persons more than 65 years of age in the state were in mental hospitals, by the year 1954-1955, 1.4% were in such institutions. Of all patients in the Minnesota state mental hospitals today, 37% are 65 years of age or older.1 Similar figures are available on a nationwide scale.2,3 In the face of this