THE PREVALENCE of psychiatric illness in old age is probably higher than indicated by the number of cases coming to professional attention. This is certainly true of those illnesses related to brain damage in old age which are diagnostically grouped under the term "chronic brain syndrome (CBS)."
A survey of persons aged 60 and over in New York city showed that 10% were "verbose, repetitious, and wandering," and 13% had memory defects suggestive of brain syndrome (M. Blenkner, written communication, 1962). A more structured survey in Syracuse, NY, of a sample of persons aged 65 and over living in the community found that 6.3% were so impaired mentally that they could be certified to a psychiatric hospital.1 Obviously the geriatric patients now in psychiatric hospitals represent only a fraction of those eligible for admission. If 6% of the approximately 1.7 million persons