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COMPREHENSIVE OLDER AMERICANS SERVICES AMENDMENTS OF 1973 AND RELATED PROGRAMS
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 1975
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met at 10 a.m., pursuant to recess, in room 2175, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. John Brademas (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Representatives Perkins, Brademas, Thompson, Lehman, Jeffords, Hall, Cornell, Miller, and Pressler.
Mr. BRADEMAS. The Subcommittee on Select Education will come to order for the third day of our hearings on the operations of the programs supported by the Comprehensive Older Americans Services Amendments of 1973.
The Chair wants to observe at the outset that these hearings seem to be taking on increasing importance for the 20 million older Americans in our society.
Within the past 2 months we have seen the administration make two proposals that could have a grave impact on the elderly poor living on fixed incomes.
First, his Secretary of Agriculture, my fellow Hoosier, Earl Butz, suggested that the cost of food stamps for the poor should rise, on the average, to one-third of the income of the recipient of the stamps. Then last month the President suggested in his State of the Union Message that we impose a ceiling of 5 percent on increases in social security, thereby rejecting the decision of the 92d Congress that social security payments should rise with the increases in the cost of living so that elderly people would not be ravaged by inflation.
Then only last week Mr. Ford sent to Congress a series of proposed rescissions under the new budget act. Here is what they would have meant to the Nation's elderly were they to be agreed to by Congress.
A 33-percent cut in the $150 million Congress has already voted for and made available for the nutrition program for the elderly in fiscal 1975;
A $9 million cut in the $105 Congress appropriated for title III of the Older Americans Act;
Complete revocation of the $8 million Congress appropriated for training personnel in the field of aging; and
Twelve million dollars, the total appropriation for the older workers program, should be rescinded
My own judgment is that these proposed rescissions have not the slightest chance of being approved by either the House or the Senate.
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I must warn you as we meet today, shortly before the President is to announce his budget for fiscal 1976, there is still more bad news for the older people of this country coming from the administration of Gerald Ford. The President blandly assumes in his 1976 budget that Congress will agree to the 1975 rescissions I have just outlined with you and that we would also agree to the lower funding levels for fiscal 1976.
What this means, if the President's proposed budget for 1976 were to be accepted, is that in place of the $105 million Congress appropriated in 1975 for community services under title III, there would be available for 1976 only $96 million and that, in the place of the $150 million Congress has made available for nutrition for the elderly in 1975, there would be only $100 million and, instead of the $8 million appropriated for training under the Older Americans Act for 1975, there would be, in 1976, nothing. Of course, the President wants nothing in 1976 to implement the older workers programs authorized by title IX of the 1973 amendments.
So I trust you will not think the Chair overly partisan if I observe that the new budget demonstrates that Gerald Ford seems to have the same priorities for the elderly people of this country as his discredited predecessor, Mr. Nixon.
Nevertheless, these proposals, both with respect to recissions and the 1976 budget, underline the gravity of the hearings we have conducted into operations of the various programs supportive of the Older Americans Service Amendments.
Today we have a distinguished list of witnesses representing the administration and the public. The Chair wants to, in that regard, urge the witnesses to summarize their prepared statements as succinctly as possible, and their entire statements will be inserted in the record and, in that fashion, we shall have an opportunity to fairly put questions to all of the witnesses.
Is Mr. Risenhoover here? [No response.]
Mr. BRADEMAS. Then we shall begin with Dr. Diana Woodruff, assistant professor, psychology, Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center, Los Angeles, Calif.
STATEMENT OF DIANA WOODRUFF, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, PSY.
CHOLOGY, ETHEL PERCY ANDRUS GERONTOLOGY CENTER, LOS ANGELES, CALIF.
Dr. WOODRUFF. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am here today to provide you with a perspective of research and teaching in the field gerontology, and I would like to, for the most part, talk about research in aging, but I would also like to support what was said by the chairman and by Dr. Streiff in Friday's testimony that training and especially long-term training in the field of gerontology is essential if we are going to provide the kind of services, the kind of high quality services we need to supply to elderly individuals.
The President has rescinded the small $8 million that was budgeted for training in the Older Americans Act. We, as urged by the American Gerontological Society, have suggested that that sum be increased
to $12 million and that furthermore more funds be set up for long-term training as well as short-term training.
The Older Americans Act, for the most part, has supported training of individuals who will directly serve the elderly. In order to train these people, there have to be individuals to train the trainers, people who have had long-term training in gerontology. So we feel additional funds should be set up for these long-term training programs.
I work at the Andrus Gerontology Center, a multidisciplined center. Congresswoman Chisholm, in the first day of testimony, pointed out the multidisciplinary approach, the approach of pulling together a large number of programs, a large number of individuals working together in the field of aging, has been
the focus of this committee and has been the thrust of this legislation. I would like to urge the support of this multidisciplinary approach and furthermore the support of multidisciplinary centers.
I guess up to this point appropriations for multidisciplinary centers has been more rhetoric than real. I would hope that there would be more monies made available for these kinds of centers.
The Andrus Center has three main functions. We are involved in research, training, and in community services. I would now like to spend some time talking about some of the research programs that are going on at the Andrus Center. It is probably one of the foremost centers of gerontology in this country and in the world; so I think, by providing you with an insight into the research that goes on there, you will have a perspective of what is going on generally in the field of gerontology.
I am going to be talking a bit about basic research but I hope I will be able to convince you that the applications of this research are rather direct and I hope it will be clear that we will be able to improve the quality of life of elderly people, short term as well as long term, with this kind of research,
I would like to talk first about aging in mice and how aging in mice and the studies of aging in mice might be relevant for aging in man. Dr. Caleb Finch at the Andrus Center works with mouse brains and one of the things that happens as the mouse ages, the centers in his brain like those in humans that are involved in Parkinson's disease seem to change. So, by studying changes in brains of mice, we might be able to develop insights into age changes involved in humans in Parkinson's disease and hopefully that will lead us to a cure for Parkinson's disease.
Another thing that has been looked at in Dr. Finch's lab is aging in the blood vessels of the brain. Is it that the cerebral vascular system is what is causing older people to function less efficiently or basic changes in the brain that are occurring.
By looking at the normal aging process in mice, Dr. Finch hopes to be able to determine whether it is the vascular system or changes in the brain as well. What has been determined up to this point has great implications in terms of humans because cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of the country,
I think the implications for this kind of research are very clear.
Another thing that Dr. Finch is looking at in mice that is relevant for men is change in the neuro endocrine system that is involved in the release of hormones to all parts of the body. We know there are clear age changes in hormones output. The most obvious change is the menopause which occurs in women.
Estrogen therapy has been one of the outcomes of this kind of research. Clearly it made life more healthy and happy for a number of aging women and these kinds of outcomes hopefully will continue as the result of basic neuro endocrine kinds of research.
Finally, Finch is looking at changes in the neurotransmitters in the brain. Nerve cells communicate serus chemical substances, called neurotransmitters. There seems to be changes in the effectiveness and amount of these neuro chemical substances in the brains of mice and men. This has been linked to things like depression. Depression is a major problem of older people. There seems to be a great increase in the amount of depression. Clearly there are social causes for increased depression, but there also seem to be biochemical causes for this age change.
Additionally, memory is implicated in age changes in neurochemistry. In other kinds of studies dealing with mice that are relevant to men, recently in science, in fact the cover of Science Magazine carried a picture taken from this study. Dr. Denise Drew, who is a psychologist, has been working with a phenomenon called sensory deprivation and Congressman Beard is very active in these hearings and pointed out that nursing homes are one of his major concerns.
One of the things that we see in nursing homes is inattention to older people. They are left alone. They are not given very much care. They are not given very much stimulation.
It has been pointed out that old people, relative to the young, since they have failing vision, failing hearing, and so forth, may be in a state of relative sensory deprivation. We know that if you are an Arctic explorer, or if you are set apart socially and you don't get an adequate amount of stimulation, your brain seems to need to increase the amount of stimulation that you get, so you hallucinate or you do various things to make yourself more alert. There seems to be deleterious effects of a lack of stimulation in older people.
I think in nursing homes, this research of Dr. Drew has clear im plications for the kind of treatment that older people should be given, She found, with rats, that if she ablated certain parts of the cortex, and then stimulated these animals, even old animals could recover functions. This is a rather phenomenal finding in old animals because we have a feeling that the brain of old people is not very plastic, that we couldn't intervene and change it and improve it.
But Drew's work indicates with stimulation you can improve the function even in older brains of mice and she feels that this has implications for nursing homes inasmuch as we should not let older people just sit and vegetate.
Dr. Hubert de Vries has done research in the philosophy of exercise which has clear implications and applications for old people. He has already served a number of older men in the Laguna Hills community. He devised a modified exercise program and took a number of men aged 55 through 80, some of whom even had mild cariovascular problems and trained them to increase the amount of exercise that they could put out in a given period of time.
This he found had great implications for various physiological systems. Whereas we seem to accept a lot of the changes that occur with