It has been stated that “Gerontology was dominated in the first stage of its brief history by the doctors and the biologists. In a second stage a place was created for the psychologists and sociologists, flanked by some economists and demographers” (1). Now gerontology is at the threshold of a third stage to be dominated, hopefully, by older people themselves who will provide the means for humanizing the last stage of life. Humanization of this stage is one of the greatest needs of today. But to accomplish this, societal attitudes must be reversed. The word “aged” in the American society has been characterized by negativism. One needs to ponder why this negative aspect is so universal here in contrast to some other nations where the aged are held in esteem. We concentrate on the negative rather than the positive. Many can quote Shakespeare’s famous negative remarks, but few are familiar with Tennyson’s quotation, “Old Age hath yet his honor and his toil … Tis not too late to seed a newer world.” The descriptions of old age in present publications often contain such words as “loneliness”, “helplessness”, and “rolelessness”. Many reports on health care focus on the negative such as “Nursing Home Care in the United States, Failure in Public Policy”. Research is needed to determine what forces produced this negativism towards a group which has contributed so much to the development of this country.
KeywordsEarly Retirement Dependency Ratio Supplementary Security Income Societal Attitude Welfare Society
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