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group should be treated as a thing apart in this problem, from your experience!
Mr. CARTER. I think that they are not unlike a trade union of professional men, if I may put it that way. They have certain characteristics, habits of thought. They are accustomed to responsibility. They are sort of a guild in their own right.
I do not suggest that they or any other body should be exempt from Federal regulation.
Senator McNAMARA. I said “Federal regulation,” but I meant Federal assistance in this area.
Mr. CARTER. I do not think they would welcome the Federal assistance in a direct form, but I think in the indirect form, of finding out what makes these pension plans tick, they would be very grateful.
Senator McNAMARA. Does this imply that you are satisfied with the work in this area now?
Mr. CARTER. Well, it is like trying to bail out at sea with a sieve, Senator. It depends on grassroots efforts in the individual cities and we have more cities interested but, as I say, prosperity is dulling the need. Whether we will always have prosperity is another question.
Senator McNAMARA. Thank you very much.
We have a representative from the American Library Association. Since the NEA people are waiting to hear from this witness, I would like to call on Germaine Krettek, from the American Library Association.
I know you have an important part to play in the program and we are glad to have you.
STATEMENT OF MISS GERMAINE KRETTEK, DIRECTOR, WASHING
TON OFFICE, AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION
Miss KRETTEK. My name is Germaine Krettek. I am director of the Washington office of the American Library Association, a nonprofit, professional association of more than 23,000 members, consisting of librarians, trustees, and friends of libraries interested in the development, extension, and improvement of libraries as essential factors in the educational program of the Nation.
Libraries are no strangers to the service of old people. They have lent books to elderly persons for their pleasure and profit; they have taken books to the shut-ins in private homes and institutions. That service goes back many years. But with the increasing awareness that the aging population is a major problem, new emphasis is being placed upon the role of the library not only as a passive cooperator, but as an active agent in this field.
Science, medicine, and other factors are giving us longer lives on the average, but they have not as yet found a solution to the problem of reduced health, lowered income, unsatisfactory housing adjustments, suitable vocational and avocational occupations, general adjustment to living, the prevention of loneliness, and the feeling of not belonging. As one specialist on aging put it, our society must strive to have the older population not merely endure the situation brought about by advancing years but also enjoy it.
The American Library Association is firmly on the side of those who feel that something can and should be done for the aging. During
its annual convention in Washington, D.C., the association held an Institute on Library Service to the Aging Population, June 22-26, 1959. The deputy director of the association has been appointed to the Advisory Committee to the White House Conference on Aging.
The American Library Association would like to illustrate how the public library can be and is an effective agency in working with our older citizens. For example:
(1) It renders direct service in meeting the informational, educational, and recreational needs of elderly persons. This of:
(a) Habitual readers, with whom there is no problem, provided the right books are provided at the right time and provided the older person's eyesight is not unduly affected.
(6) Then, there is the large group which has always been too busy to read before retirement. It is a question of getting them back on the right track to catch up with previously lost opportunities.
(c) The group that never liked reading and prefers the daily round of shuffleboard, cards, checkers, et cetera. Perhaps techniques can be evolved whereby libraries may add some cultural interests to those engrossing recreational pastimes.
(d) The groups with physical defects, eyesight, muscular troubles, and others. Here, talking books have provided one answer, perhaps research can supply others. (2) The public library can and does supply the middle age group with literature on preretirement plans, especially to the self-employed, or to those employed in small enterprises not able to carry on retirement plans. It also furnishes information to those in the middle age group who may have in their families elderly persons with housing, income, and living adjustments to make.
(3) The public library acts as a coordinating or cooperative agency on the subject of aging with community councils, churches, clubs, as well as with formal education for adult programs carried on by public school systems.
(4) The public library assists through books, films, and exhibits the personnel who work with the aging either in a professional capacity or as volunteers.
So far, only the public library has been mentioned. School, college, and university libraries also figure in the problem. School librarians, for example, can watch for, and use with teachers, children, and young adults, books and periodicals which deal constructively with the problems of the older population. Nearly all of the younger generation has some contact with elderly persons. They need to be prepared for the situation.
Likewise, with the increasing interest in college and university courses touching on geriatrics, their libraries can see to it that reading materials on the subject are made available for the faculty and students. Such libraries cooperate fully with any institutes on aging problems.
Some library activities in the interest of the senior citizens have been set forth. In addition, the American Library Association is concerned over the need for increased research in the field of geriatrics. For example, it is said that persons age mentally and physically at different rates, both in the same person and between different persons. Libraries in dealing with the aging, should know more about this process. Further, more attention needs to be paid to the training of Îibrarians with skills in dealing with the aging.
It is stated also that cultural and educational interests are good preventive bulwarks against mental decline. Libraries would like research to throw more light on this point.
The opinion is generally accepted that great resources of experience and skills exist in the elderly which should be salvaged. Aches, pains, and the aggravation of petty annoyances often tend to obscure these possibilities in many of the aging. Libraries want to see more study into how to utilize these attributes.
The American Library Association maintains, therefore, that libraries are a positive factor in dealing with the aging and that any recommendations made by the committee should take into consideration the full potentialities of libraries in this important activity.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for this opportunity to present the views of the American Library Association.
Senator McNAMARA. Thank you very much for your presentation. It is certainly going to be very helpful to the committee.
Do you find generally that libraries have special sections set aside for reading material concerned with the problems of the aged and the aging?
Miss KRETTEK. It varies from library to library. Most often, I think, at intervals they put up special displays and exhibits of materials on that subject. If there is an institute or some course or some group doing special work, libraries naturally put up material dealing with that subject on all phases.
Working with the senior citizens themselves, libraries very often have special discussion groups and at that time they would set up particular displays of materials dealing with the subject under discussion. It varies in accordance with the particular local community effort and the degree of activity.
Senator McNAMARA. Do you find an increase in the activities in this area in the demands upon your services by people in the category of the aged and aging?
Miss KRETTEK. Yes; very much. Within recent years, we have set up a special section in our adult services division of librarians who are working particularly in the area. It was because of this interest and increased demand for materials that we had this special institute on the problems of the aging in connection with our annual convention. This was very well attended in spite of the fact that it began at 8 o'clock every morning.
Senator McNAMARA. Thank you very much.
Senator RANDOLPH. Mr. Chairman, I have been intensely interested in the statement of Miss Krettek. The companionship of the printed word is often the most sustaining and satisfying reality that the older person has during that period in his or her Îife. The neighbors and associates with whom they lived are gone. But they can, by the characters portrayed in books and magazines, recapture a sense of truism and imagery. These, to them, become vibrant and alive.
Often these people lose contact with personalities but they do find very real contact in the reading which they are privileged to carry forward during these later years. I have known many instances and that is the reason for my statement.
Mr. Chairman, one question.
Perhaps, Miss Krettek, you are not qualified in this area. Do you have information which would lead you to state to the committee that often persons who become older have, rather than a failing of eyesight, a strengthening of eyesight after they have passed a certain plateau in their lives? We do have a considerable reservoir of people who, very possibly, read more than younger folks. Is this true ?
Miss KRETTEK. Yes; I think there is a very definite basis for that assumption and, also, I think a great deal of it depends on the fact that older people have more time available, and will read if books are made available to them.
I think there is a great need to get books to older people. In some instances, libraries enlist the support of volunteer groups, such as service leagues, the Junior League, various organizations of this kind, to help take books to elderly people who are not able to get to the library themselves, to also take them to homes and various institutions, and if materials are available then I think the people read a great deal. They might also like to have books read to them if they get to the place where they cannot read themselves.
Senator RANDOLPH. Mr. Chairman, I know it will be your purpose and the desire of the staff to give more emphasis to this matter of reading that we might think at the very outset of such a hearing of that type. I am very glad that you have found it important to have this type of testimony presented.
Senator McNAMARA. Thank you, Senator.
Senator McNAMARA. From the American Dietetic Association, Mrs. Nelda Ross Larsson.
How do you do?
STATEMENT OF MRS. NELDA ROSS LARSSON, THE AMERICAN
DIETETIC ASSOCIATION Mrs. Larsson. I do not have a prepared statement. I would like just to make a few detailed points.
Senator McNAMARA. You go right ahead in your own manner.
Mrs. LARSSON. The American Dietetic Association is an educational and scientific organization. It has about 14,000 members professionally qualified dietitians and nutritionists. About 47 percent are dietitians in hospitals; 4 percent are nutritionists in public or private agencies; and others may be college teachers of nutrition, dietetics, and institution administration or may be engaged in nutrition research. Members may be employed in commercial food service, with commercial food companies in college food service, and in school-lunch programs. Thus many of our members have opportunities to contribute to the solving of problems of the aged both on their jobs and as members of a community program.
We also have a scientific journal which is published monthly by which we disseminate information to our 52 State and territorial
organizations and 135 local organizations as well as to many subscribers in the United States and abroad.
As to some of the specific problems of the aged: The aged, living alone, do not perhaps make up such a large number, but many of them may not be properly nourished. They are disinterested. They are uninformed both as to food selection and as to food purchasing. They may lack proper facilities for cooking and storage.
An incident was told of one old gentleman who had to go down two flights of stairs to a community kitchen and by the time he had his meal prepared he was too tired to eat.
They may lack the proper physical energy for shopping and preparing food.
Some suggestions which have been made include the delivery of one prepared meal a day. That has been done in several communties.
The facilities of some nursing homes are open to nonresidents one meal a day. Some golden age clubs have provided a meal a day.
There has been a question asked as to whether school-lunch facilities might be used for the feeding once a day for this group. This would be a community situation which would have to be investigated.
In some communities, a shopping service has been provided for some of the older people who are able to prepare food, but who do not have the courage to go to the supermarket
any more. The institutions of the aged, whether they are homes, nursing homes or institutions for the aged, the licensing regulations are rather vague as to what the nutritional requirements and food service should be. We feel that those should certainly be made more definite. The licensing agency should provide assistance to the administrator of nursing homes, through consultations, through workshops, through educational materials and programs.
Professionally qualified dietitians and nutritionists are scarce, so we do not have a problem of locating the older dietitian in a position. The services of a qualified dietitian consultant might be available to an organization of nursing homes. In some communities a dietitian has been employed on one of her 2 days off a week to work for a home. In other instances a certain number of homes have shared the services of a dietitian.
The Public Health Service is sending a dietitian to another State to work with the licensing agency on an educational program.
The American Dietetic Association has published a simple booklet which has been sent to you on “Eating Is Fun for Older People, Too.” It can be of value to the nursing homes. We sold something like 11,000 copies. We have initiated projects dealing with nursing homes. Original research on aging has been published in the association journal as well as articles dealing with community programs,
The August 1959 issue, for example, has an article by Marjorie Hesseltine, chief nutritionist of the Children's Bureau on dietitians and nutritionists in community health programs. A good deal of our work is done as volunteers in community councils; in teaching groups about nutrition; in teaching groups about how to buy more economically, and how to cook with limited facilities. We have counseled the individual senior citizens in homes and institutions about the importance of the nutritional diet. We have given some consultation service in institutions for the aged and have given workshops and classes for cooks and other employees in improvement of service.