THE PROBLEMS of present-day medicine are rapidly becoming those of an aging population. Virtual eradication of many common infectious diseases together with the development of improved standards of nutrition, general hygiene, employment, and housing have resulted in progressive lengthening of human life. Today it is estimated that more than 7,000,000 persons in the United States are over 65 years of age; probably 1,000,000 have passed the 80-year mark.1 This represents an increase of 30% in the past 10 years. A natural consequence of this development has been an increasing emphasis on those conditions which primarily afflict elderly persons.
One of the principal problems in geriatric medicine concerns the management of chronic respiratory diseases, such as chronic bronchitis, bronchial asthma, pulmonary emphysema, and bronchiectasis. It should be emphasized that these conditions also occur in the younger age groups. Until recently pulmonary emphysema was accepted as an utterly hopeless condition usually