MAY 10, 1955
NEW YORK—May has been designated as "Senior Citizens Month" in New York State and State Senator Thomas C. Desmond of Newburgh, N.Y., who has done a great deal already to improve the conditions of older people in our state, is urging us during this month to think about the value of the older people in our midst who are constantly increasing in number because of better medical care, better sanitation and education. People are living longer than their ancestors lived and it is a necessity for them to live usefully and happily even if they have to change their type of occupation at a given retirement age.
The 65th year has been set by many business professions and occupations as the age of retirement, but at 65 years old many people are still in full possession of all their faculties and are strong and healthy. They can still be a tremendous asset to their families, to industry, to agriculture and to the community life wherever they live.
They should not be made to "retreat from life." They should be used for the good of the community. They have gained experience. Many of them have skills that can still be of service. Some of them may have to learn to develop new skills.
They may be the people, however, on whom we can count to carry many of the community activities which young people, who are still obliged to earn their living, find too great a drain on their energies. They may be of great value in organizing for the Red Cross, for the many drives that have to be carried on in any community.
The important thing, of course, for the senior citizens themselves is to stay young in mind. They can be valuable leaders of young in various boys' clubs, and there are many cases in which educated employers will find that the experience and know-how of an older worker can be used to great advantage in both factories and offices. Thus their earning years can be extended.
The problem is much the same for women as for men, and often women live longer than men.
In New York State alone there are about 1,500,000 people over 65 years of age and sometimes we find very unhappy older people who tell us that they long "for the good old days, for we see no good in the present and no good coming in the future."
The first thing one should do for them is to urge that they find something new to do. Our state has published a bill of rights for senior citizens and coupled with it a bill of responsibilities. These responsibilities are the way to earn the rights, and I think it would be well for any older person to write to the New York State Joint Legislative Committee on Problems of the Aged and get this brief statement of rights and responsibilities.
(Distributed by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)