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Keywords:

  • medical elder care;
  • geriatrics;
  • history of medicine

North American and European demographic projections indicate that by 2030, persons aged 65 and older will outnumber those younger than 15 by a ratio of 2:1. Curiously, principles of geriatric care have not taken strong hold among nongeriatric specialties, even as we approach the time of greatest need. To explore historical precedents for the current crisis in elder care, this article revisits the prescriptions of G. Stanley Hall's Senescence: The Last Half of Life (1922), a text widely recognized as one of the founding texts in the medicalized study of aging. It presents in brief three of Hall's major concerns—paucity of knowledge of nongeriatric specialists, the need for individualized care of elderly adults, and the prevalence of attitudinal obstacles in medical professionals caring for older persons—to demonstrate how little the language and content of modern appraisals have evolved since 1922. This disconcerting sense of paralysis is presented as an opportunity to advance important questions aimed at stimulating a more-comprehensive research agenda for addressing the future of medical elder care.