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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Daniel Loiterstein, MD (Rush University Medical Center)
Description: Geriatric psychiatry has evolved into a complex subspecialty. Practitioners must have knowledge and expertise that traverses not only psychiatry, but also public policy, law, and culture. This book undertakes the daunting task of explaining the care of the elderly in nursing homes.
Purpose: The objective is to provide both a comprehensive overview of nursing homes and a clinical handbook with practical use. These broad objectives are clearly met. The impact and nuances of a new law may be discussed in one chapter, while specifics of psychopharmacologic treatment are covered in the next.
Audience: Just as the backgrounds of people working with nursing home patients are broad, so is the audience for the book. Although physicians may find the material on psychotropic medication basic, they may find other sections very informative. The same may be said for administrators, social workers, or nurses. Dr. Birkett has been in the field of geriatric psychiatry since its beginning. Not only is he a credible academic, but he also remains an active clinician.
Features: The book is cleverly divided into four main sections: the places, the people, the problems, and the future. Not only does Dr. Birkett quote pertinent facts and studies, he also draws on his years of experience to provide useful and relevant anecdotal material. Perhaps the most interesting portion of the book is the final sections. The author provides his own proposals for fixing problems described in the previous chapters. The main shortcoming is also a stated objective. For many professionals in psychiatry the clinical material may be a review.
Assessment: This book is a valuable review of geriatric psychiatry in the nursing home. With the aging of the population, the relevance of the topic expands continually. The second edition provides a needed update about a dynamic topic.