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physical deterioration in elderly people is a relative matter, often fluctuating from week to week and month to month. Autopsy examination has shown that so-called senility is not necessarily correlated with brain damage and that the condition may be ameliorated with favorable environment, diet, or drug therapy. So far, neither legal sanctions nor social practice take cognizance of this situation.
Guardianship laws vary in both content and administration, and often do not apply to the particular needs of older people. The public guardian is usually responsible only for the property and not the person.
The current project is in the nature of a year's exploration of the subject.
FILM PROGRAM ON PREPARATION FOR THE LATER YEARS
As a result of the phenomenal response to its award-winning film, "A Place to Live," produced in 1955, the committee has wished to develop further its film program. It has recently announced the start of production of a series on “Preparation for the Later Years." Production of the total series is expected to take 2 years.
The first film and its accompanying materials will be a general introduction to the problem of retirement with emphasis on the maintenance of financial independence in the later years.
The scope of the series will include such subjects as physical and mental health, work and leisure time, different types of housing and living arrangements, and the relative responsibilities of the individual and the community. The first is being financed by a grant to the committee from Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Co.
THE NATIONAL COMMITTEE ON THE AGING-WHAT IT IS-WHAT IT DOES
The growing proportion of older people in our population is one of the most important factors in the economic, social, and political structure of this Nation. Everyone is affected. The mission of the National Committee on the Aging is to help find ways to develop the physical, spiritual, emotional, and material resources older people will need so that each may live out his added years with dignity as a useful member of society.-G. WARFIELD HOBBS, Chairman, the National Committee on the Aging.
WHAT IT IS
The National Committee on the Aging is a central, national resource for planning, information, consultation, and materials. It is made up of 250 members representing the many interests and concerns of older people. One-fourth are from business and industry. The others are from organized labor, health professions, social work, the clergy, education, housing, research, Government, and State and local committees on the aging.
In 1950 the committee was organized as a standing committee of the National Social Welfare Assembly, a nonprofit organization. The committee's support comes primarily from foundations and the assembly. In 1956 the Ford Foundation made an allocation to strengthen and broaden the basic program and to expand the information and consultation services. The committee staff includes consultants in health, social welfare, employment and retirement, a librarian, and special project personnel.
WHY THE COMMITTEE
The National Committee on the Aging was organized at the request of communities, professional and civic groups, agencies of Government, and others who faced the pressing problems created by the growing number of older people in this country, and who recognized the need for more adequate planning and resources. Questions facing such groups included:
What are the needs of older people and their families? What part should older people have in our expanding American economy? When should workers retire from gainful employment? What economic and social protections are needed by older people and how should these be provided? How can older people be helped to retain status in their families and in the community? How important are part-time work and leisure hours activities? Do older people have special housing needs? What are the health needs and health potentials of older people? How can communities organize to find answers to these questions and to mobilize resources to meet the varied needs of older people?
THE SITUATION TODAY
Each year the number of people who are 65 or more increases some 400,000, or approximately 1,100 a day. Predictions to 1975 estimate that there will be more than 20 million who are 65 or over compared with 3 million in 1900 and nearly 15 million today. This means an increase of 47 percent in the 65 or over age group compared to 32 percent for the total population. Life expectancy today is 70 years, compared to 48 in 1900.
Our youth-centered culture has not yet adjusted to these facts. Attitudes have kept older people from sharing fully in the social and economic life of the community and have kept the community from providing needed services. This represents a serious waste to this Nation.
Today, 60 percent of the men 65 and over are not in paid employment; the proportion of women is even higher. For the most part, people are retired from productive work on the basis of age without reference to capacity, or the needs of the economy. The result is an estimated annual loss in production of goods and services of between two and three billion dollars. The cost to tax-supported and privately financed retirement systems amounts to many billions of dollars each year.
Research is urgently needed to fill the gaps in our knowledge about the many aspects of aging and older people. A larger number of competent personnel, skilled in working with the aging, is essential. Guidelines to assist communities in thinking, planning, and acting to advance the well-being of older people must be laid down.
The program of the National Committee on the Aging is designed to help groups and individuals find the understanding, knowledge, and skills needed for everyone to live out his life as a useful member of society.
WHAT IT DOES
The committee works with and through other organizations to develop concern for older people, as well as methods and resources for meeting their needs. Among the ways the committee works are the following:
Provides a national information and consultation center.
Presses for the training of professional personnel with competence in the field of aging.
Prepares books and pamphlets based on committee activities.
Produces films, exhibits, and other visual aids, alone or in cooperation with others.
Lends kits of materials on specific problems.
Works with media of mass communication to combat the stereotype of age and to publicize programs and needs.
Gives field consultation within the limits of resources available.
The National Committee on the Aging maintains a special library as a basic resource for staff and committee members, and for writers, researchers, students, and those who plan or provide services for older people. The collection includes reports and unpublished manuscripts not generally available. The library issues lists of major acquisitions and of significant new books and periodicals, and offers a classification system. Consultation is available on selecting materials for collections, and on ways community libraries may serve older people.
CONFERENCES, MEETINGS, AND WORKSHOPS The committee conducts at least two national conferences each year and regional meetings by invitation. Regional meetings are designed to stimulate local interest, to point up major issues, and to help communities find practical solutions to their local problems. Workshops are one means of bringing expert opinion and experience to bear on specific and troubling topics.
PROJECTS AND STUDIES
The committee carries on special projects and studies of broad concern for which there seems to be no other appropriate group to assume responsibility. So far these have been in the general fields of sheltered care and the utilization of older workers.
Standards of care for older people in institutions, developed by one project, have been commonly accepted by governmental and voluntary groups as the authoritative material in the field. To help implement standards and to provide basic information for architects and planners, the committee conducted an architectural competition on planning and building homes for the aged. The results provide the basis for a book on the subject. A film, “A Place To Live,” is a sensitive portrayal of standards in action. This work in the various phases of standards for sheltered care has been financed by a series of grants from the Frederick and Amelia Schimper Foundation.
A project on the utilization of older workers organized and conducted the first national conference on retirement. This conference together with further study resulted in two major books, “Criteria for Retirement,” published by G. P. Putnam's Sons in 1953, and “Flexible Retirement,” published in 1957 by the same company. This work was financed by the McGregor fund of Detroit.
Projects now in progress include a study on the utilization of older scientific and professional personnel under a grant from the Dorr Foundation, and a study of standards for clubs and multiservice centers under a grant from the Frederick and Amelia Schimper Foundation.
BOOKS, PAMPHLETS, AND FILMS
An important part of the committee program is the preparation and distribution of printed materials and visual aids. Some are based on special projects, others on conferences and workshops. “Current Developments,” a new series, reports a roundup of selected experience on specific subjects. A news bulletin is distributed periodically to committee members and others requesting it.
AREAS OF SPECIAL CONCERN
The committee has identified certain areas of special concern, to which particular attention is paid in gathering and disseminating information, defining areas needing further study and research, and encouraging action by groups and individuals. Employment:
Development of objective criteria for employment and retirement which, in addition to age, will recognize and evaluate individual differences.
Evaluation of actual experience in the employment of older workers.
Promotion of job opportunities for older people.
Experiences with flexible rather than age-based compulsory retirement.
Effects of retirement on the individual in such matters as reduced income, lack of useful activity, loss of fixed status in society.
Programs in preparation for retirement provided by employers, labor unions, universities, and communities.
Businesses operated by or for retired people, and other organized means for providing useful activity.
Pension plans, insurance provisions, and other matters affecting the economic security and health of retired workers. Health:
The team approach to the health needs of older people, since they may stem from a combination of medical, social, and environmental factors.
Awareness of the health potential of older people and the community facilities necessary to help the individual realize his potential.
Programs in rehabilitation.
Provision for medical care that is geographically accessible and within the financial resources of older people.
Accident prevention and safety measures. Professional personnel, trained and motivated to care for the health needs of older people.
Programs of industry designed to extend the working life of older employees.
Development of objective tests for estimating the physical and psychomotor abilities of older people. Housing and living arrangements :
More imaginative planning which will result in better housing and a wider choice of living arrangements—individual houses or apartments, institutions, foster homes, boarding care, hotels.
Services which will allow older people to remain in their own homes homemaker service, home medical and nursing care, food services, friendly visiting.
Services needed in housing situations where older people constitute the major portion of the residents. Recreation :
Programs of clubs and multiservice centers offering recreation and leisuretime interests.
Development of standards of such programs. Education :
Programs of adult education and retraining through public school systems, universities, religious groups, social centers, and libraries. Counseling and casework services:
Strengthening counseling and casework services to assist individuals and families handle problems of adjustment, and economic, legal, housing,
health, and other matters. Community organization:
Organization of central planning bodies at National, State, and local levels to study and define areas of need, to provide for coordination of services, and to offer information and referral help.
YOU AND THE COMMITTEE
If you or your organization want help with any of the matters mentioned in this folder, the National Committee on the Aging will try to assist you or will refer you to other resources in position to help. The committee invites your assistance in the collection of useful material. Please send reports of pertinent programs, services, and research. You are invited also to send the names of good speakers and other possible resource personnel in the field of the aging.
NATIONAL SOCIAL WELFARE ASSEMBLY
The National Social Welfare Assembly is the central, national planning, and coordinating body for social welfare, created to study and define social welfare problems and to plan methods for meeting them. The program moves forward through a threefold partnership of government and voluntary, national and local, lay and professional interests. It is a nonprofit organization, supported · by contributions from affiliate national organizations, some 250 community chests, united funds or councils, individuals, corporations, and foundations. The National Committee on the Aging, a standing committee of the National Social Welfare Assembly, receives a portion of its basic support from the assembly.
Mrs. MATHIASEN. First of all, I think I might say just very briefly that the National Committee on the Aging is a voluntary group which is made
up of about 250 people widely representative of the various interests in aging. About a fourth of our membership is made up of representatives of business and industry because it is our feeling that a good deal of what happens to older people in the country, particularly older workers in quest of employment and retirement, will depend upon a clear understanding of leaders in industry and organized labor about what these programs mean.
Basically, I think our service is divided into two areas. One is the national consultation service, which has as its backbone a library of some 4,000 collected items, most of which are valuable, I think, because they are unprinted, unpublished material not available elsewhere. They are pamphlets reporting a wide variety of experimentation and programs across the country.
We make these available, on request, as people from communities across the country present their problems. Whether it is a problem of preparation for retirement or building a home for the aged or trying to get a program going, we try to analyze these requests on the basis of the local situation and then answer them in whatever way seems best, very often by a loan folder of material which seems pertinent, based on the experience of other communities.
We have about, I guess, 3,000 requests a year of this kind from all 50 States and from 23 foreign countries.
The other part of our work which we think is particularly important is that of picking up and doing some intensive work in areas for which nobody else seems to be either responsible or interested in. I will give a couple of quick examples of that. One is a consistent job we have done on standards of care for older people in institutions which began at the time when States were going to have to do something about setting standards but only about half of the States had any standards at all for institutional care for older people. So we got together with the people who were actively concerned in the field to help establish what might be not only desirable but also reasonable standards. And we have followed that through consistently going into an architectural competition because a lot of the standards are based on adequate architecture. We are having a new book out this fall published by the Dodge Publishing Co. on building and planning homes for the aged, the first material that architects and planners have done together.
Having done that, we are now working on standards for club programs. Again this is a very active program throughout the country, but has been developed for the most part without much thought of standards.
The other area of specialization has been employment and retirement. It has been the feeling of our committee that it does not do much good for anybody else to do a lot of talking about employment and retirement except those people who are in position to do something about it, namely, industry and organized labor. Therefore, we have been in one way or another working for about 7 years in involving some of the leadership in the country in these fields in employment and particularly in extending retirement of older people, beginning with an Arden House conference, with about 70 people representing wide interests in industry, meeting regularly over a period of 2 years informally, discussing the practical problem. And there were representatives of organized labor who could sit around informally and discuss what labor's position would be and so on.
These two things have resulted in a couple of books which have had a good deal of circulation and I think some influence, “Flexible Retirement" and "Criteria for Retirement."
Right now we are engaged on a rather interesting new field of this kind which I believe is going to have increasing attention of the country but which so far nobody has taken any very serious thought about and that is the problems of guardianship and protective services. This is what the American Bar Association calls a concern with the not quite incompetent incompetent, that vast group of people that are not quite competent to handle their own affairs but should not be handled in what is very often taken as the easiest way out and that is commitment to mental institutions. We have just begun work on