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As our population continues to age, health professionals are being called on to care for an ever-increasing number of elderly patients. A thorough understanding of what constitutes normal aging versus age-prevalent illness is essential. In addition, the atypical and nonspecific presentation of illness commonly encountered when caring for an older patient must be expected and watched for carefully. In recent years, the health professional has been exposed to an exponentially increasing number of publications attempting to teach geriatric principles. To date, few publications lend themselves to use by the busy practitioner, student, or nurse in search of immediate facts, flow sheets, and clinically applicable data. It was felt that the health professional would benefit greatly from a book based on the concept of a ready-reference "hand book," with chapters filled with tables, flow sheets, and listings similar in scope to those in a well-presented lecture series. Our goal was to create a geriatrics handbook that would have value at the bedside as well as in the classroom. It is to this end that the contributors dedicated their efforts.