A Ritch
Journal Issue: 
Volume 42: Issue 4: 2012



It is widely assumed that geriatric medicine was an invention of the twentieth century. However, from the time of Hippocrates, there has been interest in the prolongation of the lifespan, the maintenance of health in old age and agerelated disease patterns. The debate about whether old age was a natural phenomenon or a disease state was not resolved until the nineteenth century. Calls for medicine relating to old age to be recognised as a discrete entity at the time when medical specialisation was developing were disregarded until the second half of the twentieth century. This review discusses the history of the theories of ageing and of disease and the practice of medicine for older people from the classical period up to Marjory Warren’s initiative in London in 1935 and the development of geriatrics as a medical specialty.

Keywords Geriatrics, old age, gerocomy, medical specialisation

Declaration of Interests No conflicts of interest declared.