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Some of us kept on complaining about that, but anyhow the reports, as they had been written in the Department ahead of time, got out into the press, and our statement got very little publicity.
Now, I am sure that this committee will not proceed in that fashion. One of the things that we emphasized in our statement at that time was the limited amount of information we had in regard to the aging. The same is true today in spite of all the studies that have been made in the meantime.
We say that there is a great deal of information available in the States. Yes, there is, in the files of welfare departments. But that, after all, concerns only a limited number of the aging in the United States. Many times we have been given to understand that it describes the conditions of all the aging in our country.
Now, the fact of the matter is we have yet very little original research in this field. You might possibly find 10 people in the United States who are doing original research on the aged. I mean the ordinary, run-of-the-mine aged. I am not talking about those who have had needs tests, those who have been "on welfare," as they would call it themselves—and I might say that, in my own studies one of the disadvantages I had was that I am supposed to operate as a part of a welfare agency.
In my study of the Fruit Belt in Buffalo, which was a fairly systematic study, the people that I interviewed kept on asking me, "Well, now, what are you going to do with all this information; we are not on the welfare, you know; we are pretty well able to take care of ourselves"? In this study we did give a good deal of time to figuring out what this group of aged can add to the community, what their constructive work should be in that community. They have organized a center, and I am afraid they have not adhered to our recommendations, because there is so much of a tendency to develop the welfare approach instead of the approach that helps people to think and plan for themselves.
Now, that is my approach to this problem, as it is in all problems of the American community.
I think we have to develop more and more people to think and to plan for themselves and to develop their own strengths, because, after all, these 15 million you talk about are not on welfare; only a very small percentage of them are on welfare of any kind. But maybe we could learn a good deal from the others as to how to operate a program for the aging.
After that meeting of Oscar Ewing's, I began to speculate how I could return it to some of my older approaches. I had made an original study for the State of Ohio in 1919, and they wanted me to study all the poorhouses and all the homes for the aging. I said, "You don't find the ordinary aging in those institutions. I want to study the ordinary rank and file of the aging."
I finally had to compromise with them. I had to study all the county infirmaries but I insisted on studying a good part of the city of Hamilton, Ohio. I wanted to see what the ordinary aging looked like.
I started to follow through on that same plan about 5 years ago and we have already completed three studies. A fourth study is almost complete. It is very interesting to note the difference of attitude that you find when you take the ordinary people in the community-the
independence that you find. I remember, for instance, even in regard to the chronically ill, in our study in St. Louis I was amazed in my own schedules at the number of the chronically ill people that I was running into. I said to our principal consultant who was probably the outstanding authority in this field in the United States, "The chronically ill in my schedules are running rather high."
She said: "I think you will find about 11 or 12 percent being cared for in their own homes, by their own families, by their own plans." I found about 15 percent of my own schedules were running in that direction. It was very interesting to see how it developed and how their own families taking care of them-and I had a meeting with the medical faculties of Washington University and St. Louis University to discuss this situation. They were all in agreement that that is the thing you had to work at. You had to study it. But where is the research on it? We have very little research in this field.
The British have recently published two excellent studies on the family life of aging peoples. That is a thing that we have not explored.
I have tried in my studies to explore it. We have found, of course many problems because there is a good deal of resistance on the part of the aging to submit themselves to examination, to be questioned. In our Milwaukee study we are finding about 20 percent have resisted. In spite of an educational program ahead of time and the fullest cooperation of the leaders around there of the community we have had a great deal of resistance and that is one of the reasons why we have so few really good research studies on the aging.
Will they submit to questioning from Government organizations or State welfare departments, these ordinary aging persons that we met? Are these the type of studies the State welfare departments make? I do not think so. At least those that I have seen, and I have been over most of the reports of the State welfare departments, and I do not think that you have much of that type of study and that is what I would like to see more of.
I recognize that there are problems but I do not think we should exaggerate them; and I hope that the 1961 White House Conference on Aging does not, because I, for one, will raise my voice on the other side if they give the impression that 99 percent of the aging in the United States are pathological and need to be led by the hand.
I think they must be helped to maintain their independence, to think and to plan for themselves. I am convinced that it can be done. Take the aging receiving OASI. In my own studies I talked to dozens of these aging who were receiving OASI, what they call "social security." They say, "Well, you pay for that, you have contributed to that yourself. It is not being on the welfare." But you talk to them about the welfare and then you have another story. They do not want to hear about getting on "the welfare."
I would like to undertake another study in the State of Colorado to see what the program of old age assistance has done to family life. I think it is a very natural inquiry. We ought to have studies like that to see what is happening in the loose administration of assistance in many States. What is that doing to families?
I would like to study that thoroughly and objectively, not to go at it with the idea that I was going to come out with a definite conclusion. I think in many of the States it would stand very careful
study. I mention particularly Colorado, where they virtually have another type of pension plan, and I think I would not mind studying Massachusetts, because I wonder what is happening in Massachusetts in these medical benefits-part is going to the families of the aged. I think in time these families will grow up. I think they are growing up. And I do not think the American family is any weaker now than it was 30 or 40 years ago. I believe that the American family has great strengths. I think, on the whole, the families of the aging have great strengths.
I am sure there are some families of the aged, possibly if you were to study their history you would find they have never been strong families; but nearly all the families of the aging are strong families, independent families. That does not mean that they do not need some support, but it ought to be a support that does not break them down.
Many of these approaches, both in the health field and in the welfare field tend to undermine the structure of family life, and I think we need a new approach to this whole question of public benefits based on the idea that we are going to use them as a means of building up the strengths of the families. But that must not be by individual approach; it must be by a community approach, an approach that includes all the people of the community.
I have tried some experiments along that line, and I have tried one in Lackawanna near Buffalo, N.Y. It is moving very well. We got all the groups, including the churches, working together in that community.
We have another project underway in Butte, Mont. We have all the people working together. Would you think, for instance, in trying to develop a new health program we are just going to talk to technicians? No, we are going to get the people all around the area, all around the neighborhoods, together and see what they need for themselves in the way of a health program.
I do hope that this committee will give some thought to this kind of approach to these matters.
We have not had much evidence of it in the various State meetings so far. It looks as though we were going to continue in the same rut. I hope that this committee will give some attention to this new point of view which is a point of view in regard to the American community. This point of view is being developed all over the world. We are slower in the United States in catching up.
In England, after all their experience with the welfare state, you find more and more emphasis on the new strengths of the family, the new strengths of the neighborhood relationships as a means of building up the type of social program that is fully in accordance with the dignity of man, with the dignity of the family.
That is my approach.
We have a growing interest in our studies now. They are being considered more and more throughout the country. I am glad to see the National Lutheran Council working along the same line with us, and maybe we will be able to get more and more people at what we call the grassroots, the peoples themselves, thinking and planning for themselves and maybe they will have ideas as to how their brethren who are not so fortunately situated-maybe they might have ideas.
But the trouble in the United States as a whole, and this is true of all welfare programs, too much thinking is done by specialists and not enough by the people themselves.
I want to thank you, Senator, for the opportunity of appearing before your committee, and I know that you will do a good job and you will bring all these points of view to the attention of the American people.
Thank you very much.
Senator MCNAMARA. Thank you very much, Monsignor. You can be sure we appreciate very much your testimony and what you term this new approach.
I am sure that it will be given real consideration. As far as contacting these people directly, we have plans to do that.
Now, you make a great point of responsibility of the family in developing the family unit in this area. Certainly this is a good approach and we are all for it.
But we find so many of the aged living in slums, and you have a great deal of experience in these studies, and other studies that you have conducted, particularly in the Chicago area. Don't you find too many of these people 65 and older that are housed in the poorest, most dilapidated housing in these big cities?
Monsignor O'GRADY. I agree on that.
Senator MCNAMARA. How does the family unit tie into that circumstance?
Monsignor O'GRADY. I think that in many areas, for instance, we are studying a project now, a public housing project in Chicago, that has been criticized as demoralizing and it is. These things that I have testified to, I am a pioneer in this public housing. We have decided to approach this from the standpoint of what the people in these projects can do for themselves. I think the same would be true in all areas.
One time I made a very short study of a very depressed area in Chicago, but I found great elements of strength in that area. Of course, the way we are operating this urban renewal, we are helping to develop more slums in locations. We are spreading more slums.
I think there are strengths in these places more than we realize. That is what I believe, in strengthening, giving them a chance.
I have seen what has happened in my Lackawanna project in New York. It is amazing to me the strength that the people have shown. We have taken the housing project there, and it was demoralizing and demoralized; and the Federal Government had to take it away from the local community on two occasions, but we went after the people themselves, stirred them up, stimulated them.
In a period of 6 months that was a new project with a new point of view and new life in the people themselves. So I believe in this all around.
I have seen it and I have had a project in the new State of Ghana. I have seen what has happened in other countries. When you give them a chance of helping themselves it is amazing. Of course our specialists in this country do not want it. They just do not. There is this resistance at every point.
I suppose maybe it is a challenge to them, maybe it is a challenge to lots of the people who are working along other lines, but I feel that there are strengths everywhere. They ought to be used, and I think an awful lot depends on your approach. You can demoralize people. I think they are being demoralized by a considerable part of the welfare we have. I would like to see a new front.
That does not mean I want to cut out all the funds involved in it. That is not the point.
But I am going to put a new front on it if I can. I am going to keep on and I am getting some supporters more and more. People will come along when you have patience enough to sit down and explain it to them.
I have seen that even in my African experiments, and I want to try some European projects before I pass out, too. I am going to try some of those. I have some of the resources in sight right now.
One of the troubles that we would have immediately if we were to proceed to make the type of studies that I am suggesting is personnel. We have very few people who are qualified to undertake this type of research and we have few people who can take this community approach in the disorganized neighborhoods of our cities.
What social implements do we have, for instance, for dealing with Detroit, Chicago, New York? What social implements do we have? We have no other social implement except the people themselves, and that is my challenge to you.
Senator MCNAMARA. Thanks very much, Monsignor.
The hearing is adjourned until tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock. (Whereupon, at 12:25 p.m., the subcommittee recessed, to reconvene at 10 a.m., Thursday, August 6, 1959.)