This volume marks the first of a new series, Contemporary Geriatric Medicine, joining the ever growing "Contemporary" family. As with the other "Contem porary" volumes, our goal is to assist the reader in maintaining currency in a rapidly changing field. Perhaps no field has shown such major advances in such a short time as geriatrics. Over the last several years, the "demographic impera tive" has become a source of concern for many, including clinicians, scientists, econ omists, and health planners. Our geriatric knowledge base continues to grow, often making it difficult to keep abreast of advances and current therapeutic modalities. Contemporary Ger iatric Medicine presents the state-of-the-art thinking regarding a variety of topics all of major concern to the health practitioner caring for the elderly person. The authors, for the most part serving as members of a stable editorial board, have chosen topics that should have immediate interest to the readership. By having a stable editorial board, continuity is ensured in successive volumes. Every two years, a subsequent issue will either address new thoughts on already presented topics or focus on new topics of current interest. As with the other "Contempo rary" series volumes, the every other year interval is intended to allow new find ings to develop and be tested. It also provides the authors with time to provide the highest quality of work.