AUGUST 6, 1952
NEW YORK, Tuesday—There are two different kinds of problems concerning old people that seem to confront us today.
One is the problem of the really aged, who in the past have been placed in an old folks' home and have just awaited the end. This problem is being solved today in many places by a new concept, which is that people should really live, no matter how old they are. Instead of an old people's home being merely a place of shelter, it should be a place where old people live an active and creative life.
The Montifore Home in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, is perhaps one of the most advanced experiments for old people. There they have a big workshop and they can go on with whatever work interests them or with work they are capable of doing. They are not allowed to exhaust themselves but they are allowed to get healthily tired. And they also are allowed to work for gainful result. In this way old people who were dependent on relatives or friends for a little pocket money often can earn their own, which gives them self-respect and a sense of independence.
Our other problem is one of which I talk very often. This is the difficulty that the people of the middle-age group have in finding work of any kind.
They should not be taken out of the labor market and I cannot say that too strongly. They are very often good workers who have only temporarily left some kind of a job because of family needs or temporary ill health. When they want to resume their careers by getting back to work the weary chase begins from one agency to another, from one interview to another and always the same answer—"We are afraid you are a little too old for this job." Ultimately, many a man or woman of 45 or 50 begins to feel that he is 65 or 70.
This question is really very serious. In a way it is detrimental to society not to use people when they have reached an age at which they are much more stable than they probably were in early life. Many of them are physically stronger than they were when young. They certainly are more emotionally stable and they should be well able to do a good job. They should not be made to feel they are not wanted or forced to live on their savings until they reach the age when an old-age pension is available.
I am glad to see us meeting the problem of the really old people so much better than we have in the past and I hope the day will come when there will be no old people's home, as such, but activity centers where old people live. And because we are solving this problem satisfactorily, I cannot help hoping that some ways will be found to solve the other problem in the near future.