« PreviousContinue »
other senior citizen clubs of various sizes. These are sponsored by various churches, synagogues, community centers, Y's, and the Recreation Department. The programs of these groups usually are social and recreational. Some of us also have educational and community service programs.
Some of us are fortunate in that we get real help and encouragement from our sponsors in developing our programs. Other groups, however, do not have this help and don't know how to get it. As I have talked with the leaders of these senior groups I find that we all have similar problems, problems that go beyond the scope of any one group.
Where can we turn for help for the many problems that confront us and our members daily? There is no central place to turn for help and information, whether in planning group activities or in dealing with individual problems.
Let us just indicate a few of the problems that we hear every day. I will spare you the details, though perhaps some of you know of these through your mail.
Here are some of the questions:
(1) Do you know where I can find a decent place to live on my limited income?
(2) Do you think I can become eligible for social security ?
(3) Can you help me find a part-time job? I am still healthy and I need to work.
(4) How can I go to the doctor for a checkup when I still owe money from my last illness?
(5) Do you know where I could learn to do office work? I can't stand on my feet all day, but I could work at a desk.
(6) Is there somewhere I can volunteer my services? I have time and I want to be useful.
How do you answer these questions? Sometimes we send people to private social agencies like the Jewish Social Service Agency, but they can give only special kinds of help. Beyond that we in Washington are confronted with a paradox. Many Federal services which may be helpful to senior citizens are in such a maze of different departments that we don't know where to start.
At least during the White House Conference on Aging we could receive material from the Federal Government and guidance from the District of Columbia Council on Aging. Today there is no Government agency where we can turn for information which will be helpful to our members.
If we had a central information source to provide us with the proper facts we could do a far better job in helping our members to help themselves.
In going through the McNamara-Fogarty bill to establish a U.S. Commission on Aging I find it to be a most desirable bill for a number of reasons.
First, I agree wholeheartedly with its 10-point declaration of objectives, namely:
(1) An adequate income for retirement in health, honor, and dignity. (2) Equal opportunity for employment. (3) The best possible physical and mental health.
4) Suitable housing.
(9) Freedom, independence, and free exercise of individual initiative.
(10) The right to consideration of needs and potentials without fragmentation
Second, I feel that the Federal grant program will help each State and the District of Columbia to do a better job to carry out this program in the local communities.
Third, I believe that we will all benefit from having one major commission that can be aware continuously of the changing needs of older people, that can propose legislation, and that can coordinate the many efforts throughout the country.
It would give us a new measure of security to know that our Government is concerned enough with our problems to be willing to help us to finance them, and as we are able to deal with our problems more adequately we can become more independent rather than less so.
Now, Mr. Chairman, on behalf of the members of my group and myself, I want to thank your committee for the opportunity to appear before you to tell you of our thoughts on this important piece of legislation.
Thank you very much.
Mrs. HANSEN. Just one question. Why was the Council on Aging abolished here in the District ?
Mr. GREENBERG. They were abolished, as near as I know, on account of the fact that they didn't have the money to appropriate at that time. I believe there was an appropriation necessary of about $16,000 for a continuation for about 3 or 4 months and that money was not appropriated.
Mrs. HANSEN. By the District of Columbia ?
Mr. GREENBERG. By the District, yes, ma'am. I happen to be a vice president of the League of Senior Citizens and I know Mr. Simmons and we did all we possibly could to get this appropriation provided for, but it was never appropriated.
Mr. HANSEN. One further question, Mr. Chairman.
You mentioned employment problems. Do you have any success at all in securing employment for those in the overage bracket?
Mr. GREENBERG. There is the Government Employment Office that some of the members have been to, but they have not been, shall we say, successful in getting any employment.
Mrs. SMIGEL. Might I say in some other cities they have established workshops where senior citizens can gain employment, particularly in large cities like New York where there would be availability of employment.
Mr. GREENBERG. There is one problem, of course, there. It is the age that they take into consideration,
Mrs. HANSEN. There is a great deal of it.
Mr. GREENBERG. Figuring that the age is against the party that is applying Mrs. HANSEN. Thank you.
Mr. BAILEY. The chairman would like to thank you, Mrs. Smigel and also Mr. Greenberg, for your informative testimony.
Mr. GREENBERG. Thank you, sir. Mr. BAILEY. We are hoping through all of this information we will be able to write satisfactory legislation.
Thank you very much.
Mr. BAILEY. The Chair is informed that Mr. Monsman is substituting for Dr. Matthew Tayback, of the Maryland Commission on the Aging
Would you come forward, Mr. Monsman, and identify yourself to the reporter and proceed with your testimony?
STATEMENT OF GERALD MONSMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, STATE
OF MARYLAND COMMISSION ON THE AGING
Mr. MONSMAN. Yes. My name is Gerald Monsman. I am executive director of the Maryland State Commission on the Aging.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I was asked to represent our commission in the absence of Dr. Tayback who had an unbreakable appointment with the mayor this morning at this same hour.
I should just like to state, as we have communicated by letter with this committee advising it, that our State commission went on record at its last meeting as supporting House bill 10014, the Fogarty-McNamara bill for the establishment of a U.S. Commission on the Aging:
I think our commission had two purposes in mind in going on record in support of that. First, they believe there is a strong necessity that at this time Congress should establish a strong office to guide and direct Federal policies with reference to aging, and second, that it is extremely important that in this session of Congress a grant program be established of the type that is incorporated in the Fogarty-McNamara bill.
Speaking to the first point, I should merely like to add this: that the position that our commission took was in no way criticism of what is being done by the special staff on aging in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare at this time. They feel the staff has rendered a very admirable and very useful service to us and has only praise for it.
However, the reason our commission took the position, as I have indicated, is that they believe there should be a strong office in the Federal Government and they have some question as to whether under the present statutory setup the present staff could guide the program in the fashion that it ought to be guided from a Federal standpoint.
Next, there is some question in their minds whether an office that is a part of one of the departments of Government could serve as effectively as it should in coordinating the activities of all the departments of Government concerned with the question of aging; and, thirdly, there was some question in the minds of the members of our commission as to whether a Department like HEW, which has grown so very large and has such a wide variety of programs to administer, could give the energetic type of attention to aging which is necessary at this time.
In our State and in a number of States the form of organization that has been adopted has been one of an independent commission within the State on which not only citizens generally, but heads of departments are represented in an ex officio capacity because that has worked well in a number of States-it certainly has in our State-it was the feeling of the commission that if that policy were adopted on the Federal level it might also be as effective as it has proved in a number of the States.
The point that our commission had in mind, however, and that they wanted to stress is their interest in having a strong office established with the necessary legislative base rather than necessarily how and in which way it is established, but it felt that this proposal in this bill gave a solution which appealed to the commission.
Mr. BAILEY. In view of the fact that the field of the problems of the aging has connections in at least six or seven of the Federal departments and agencies, I think you would agree with me and the old maxim that what is everybody's business is nobody's business.
Mr. MONSMAN. Well, I suppose that is about it, Mr. Chairman, that that is the inclination of the commission, although the commission realized what was involved in establishing a new agency like a commission and it gave consideration to that. Yet they figured that the needs of the aging and the significance of this problem on a national scope was so great that it was desirable to have it handled in this fashion.
Mr. BAILEY. Thank you. You may proceed.
Mr. MONSMAN. The second concern that our commission had, as I have indicated, is that there should be adopted a comprehensive system of grants to the States in supporting their work. Our commission has a State budgetary allotment, but it does feel the need of additional Federal aid and support and in the form of grants or matching grants, and we are mindful of the fact that there are a number of States that do not have appropriations, and now that after a beginning has been made in connection with the White House Conference and those States are not proceeding, we are afraid there will be a lull in meeting the needs of the older people and that unless this session of Congress does something about it, matters will retrogress as far as meeting the needs of the aging are concerned, and therefore on both of those scores, in order to get an adequate office and in order to get an adequate grant program, our commission went on record as supporting this bill, sir.
Mr. BAILEY. Mr. Monsman, I have before me a copy of your letter addressed to Chairman Adam C. Powell, chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor. I would like to ask permission that this be included in the record in connection with your testimony.
Mr. MONSMAN. We should like to have it so included, sir.
(The letter referred to follows:)
STATE OF MARYLAND,
Baltimore, Md., March 16, 1962.
Washington, D.C. DEAR CONGRESSMAN POWELL: This is to advise you that the Maryland State Commission on the Aging, at a meeting held yesterday, went on record as endorsing the above-mentioned bill. Our commission is of the opinion that it is important that Congress should in this session pass a bill setting up an office which can energetically administer the Federal Government's program on behalf of the vast and rapidly growing aging segment of our population. For that reason our commission endorsed this bill.
Another consideration influencing the action of our commission was the fact that our commission deems it extremely important that a comprehensive program of grants for administration, demonstration, and project purposes be made available to the States before the impact of the White House Conference on Aging is lost. To avoid the danger of such loss it is extremely important that such a program be enacted by this session of Congress. For that reason our commission hopes for prompt action on that phase of the bill. Sincerely yours,
GERALD MONSMAN, Executive Director. Mr. BAILEY. Dr. Wilma Donahue, Institute of Gerontology, University of Michigan. Doctor, you may further identify yourself for the reporter and proceed with your statement.
STATEMENT OF WILMA DONAHUE, PH. D., CHAIRMAN, DIVISION
OF GERONTOLOGY, THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
Dr. DONAHUE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am Wilma Donahue, chairman of the Division of Gerontology of the University of Michigan. I would like to take this opportunity to commend the Congress, the House and the Senate, for the great deal of attention that is being given to the problems of aging and would also like to ask permission to speak to three major topics. One of these is the critical shortage of trained personnel to work in the field of aging. The second is the United States Commission on Aging Act introduced in identical bills by my own Senator McNamara and by Congressman Fogarty, and, third, I would like to discuss, Chairman Bailey, your own General University Extension Education Act as an important aspect of the services that may be given to senior citizens.
Mr. BAILEY. Thank you.
Dr. DONOHUE. If I may have this permission, I would like to read my statement and file it with the committee. Mr. BAILEY. You go right ahead.
Dr. DONAHUE. My first point is that there is such a critical shortage of persons trained to work in the field of aging or to train others to do so, that the taking of emergency measures to increase immediately the supply is a preeminent necessity. Otherwise, the expanding multiplicity of programs and services, and the increasing supply of funds to develop further the means of meeting the needs of the older citizens will be, I believe, rendered meaningless.
The Congress has already made available millions of dollars to provide for planning and demonstration and for the development of facili