Training for the Practice of Clinical Gerontology: The Role of Social Medicine
First published in Interdisciplinary Topics in Gerontology, vol. 5 (1970), pp. 72–8.
By 1970, it was commonly acknowledged that the predominant tendency in clinical gerontology was an orientation to the elderly person's potential for living — a more positive view of ageing. This paper by Cicely Saunders is unusual in focusing on thoughts of dying, what she describes as ‘the more neglected field’. It argues that students of gerontology need to learn that the patient must be seen as part of a total situation, and not merely as a case. Their learning can be enhanced by in-depth studies of individual patients, drawing also on the knowledge of the social worker and the sociologist. She suggests that the recognition of the imminence of death may prove just as difficult in the geriatric unit as on the general ward, in a situation where the concept of ‘the good death’ gets ignored.
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