Views & Reviews Review of the Week

Older and wiser

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 16 February 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d922
  1. Graham Mulley, immediate past president, British Geriatrics Society, and retired geriatrician, Leeds

This multimedia exhibition explores aspects of ageing and longevity, challenges our attitudes to old age, and gives new perspectives on successful ageing, finds Graham P Mulley

If the rigours of crisis care, community geriatrics, and academic work left me weary, an afternoon in the outpatient clinic would always lift my spirits. Although some elderly patients advised me not to get old (saying that it was not much fun), most would delight me with their humour, resilience, wisdom, and patience. I was impressed by their individuality, their remarkable devotion to care giving, and their contributions to the cohesion of the local community. It occurred to me that they were the healers; I was the patient.

My joy in being a geriatrician often puzzled my colleagues and non-medical friends, who considered the specialty worthy but dull and depressing. Perhaps some feared their own mortality or worried about decrepitude, disability, dementia, and dependence. All would have read newspaper headlines warning of the demographic time bomb, grey hordes, silver tsunamis, and portents of intergenerational warfare.

Journalistic clichés about the negative …

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