Elderly patients constitute nearly two thirds of resident hospital patients (DHSS, 1988): 60,280 people were resident in mental illness beds at the end of 1986, and 34,340 were aged over 65 years; 21,500 had been resident for more than a year and 11,300 for more than five years. This represents a 15.7% fall in numbers of resident elderly patients over a decade, while numbers of younger resident patients fell by 40%. Mental hospitals are increasingly dominated by their population of elderly patients. Some patients have grown old in the hospitals, but more are admitted in late life and remain in care, usually because they are suffering from severe dementia.
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