« PreviousContinue »
And now referring briefly to the Commission on Churches' Responsibility to Older Persons, our commission and the State council of churches this year is working in the following area : (1) a suggested outline of study for the local church club; (2) a bibliography, to a strategy for a council of churches; (3) a study and report on housing; (4) relationship with reference to senior citizensorganizations; (5) training friendly visitors; (6) reaching the unchurched older person; (7) legislation; (8) economic factors and labor; (9) study and effective ministry to people who have lost their strength, especially those confined to rest homes and institutions; and (10) religious education.
You will find attached to this report an example of a preliminary document which is at the moment a part of the work of our commission.
Thank you for allowing me to make this brief statement. Mr. O'Hara. Thank you, Mr. Simmons. I assume you realize that Mr. Fogarty's bill, H.R. 10014, provides for the creation of an advisory commission on the aged.
Mr. SIMMONS. That's right.
Mr. O'HARA. I am interested in hearing your appraisal of the effect the California Governor's commission has had upon the approach to these problems in California. I wanted to ask you, since you are very much involved in the efforts of church groups with regard to the aged, this question.
Do you feel that the efforts of church groups in this field would be materially assisted by the proposed program of assistance for training, demonstration, and research to nonprofit institutions?
Mr. Simmons. That is exactly what I am pleading for. Churches sometimes are very slow, hopelessly slow, and there is a function here that the Government certainly can help at this point. We are very much in favor of it and in answer to your first question, the Governor's commission on aging here in the State of California has reached into the churches through my knowledge and activity in a rather effective way. We are very, very happy with this service that has been provided.
Mr. O'HARA. Do you believe, Mr. Simmons, as Dr. Pulley evidently does, that a system of grants on a matching basis to private and public agencies for research and demonstration would have an effect far beyond the amount of money that the Federal Government might invest in it?
Mr. SIMMONS. Absolutely, and I think the principle of matching funds or the demand for support at the local level should be a part of it.
Mr. O'HARA. Mr. Giaimo, have you any questions? Mr. GIAIMO. Just one, Dr. Simmons. I am very much impressed with the background that you have made here on your first page, using the skills that one has already acquired in his lifetime, and then for those who cannot continue to use those, to retrain them into new types of skills that he can use. But I do think thai we shculd by very careful and try to get away from this concept of education for retirement unless we absolutely have to, because isn't one of our problems the fact that with thinking of this magical word "retirement" at age 65, which perhaps no longer fits into our society, or at least should be pushed ahead, for instance, some years beyond 65.
Mr. SIMMONS. I am in complete agreement with that note of warning, and it leads me to suggest to you that my definition of retirement is just more of the same. As a minister, I find that people who are ornery, get ornerier as they get older, and those that are sweet and kind get more kind and sweet as the years go by. This applies to other realms as well.
Mr. O'HARA. Thank you for your comments. I think it is entirely clear that the professional person who has the opportunity to continue his profession in his advancing years, although perhaps at a different pace and perhaps for different purposes, is really the happiest and best adjusted of the older people.
Mr. SIMMONS. The same thing would be true in a limited way to nonprofessional people, too, but what a broken-down politician can do, I don't know.
Mr. O'HARA. Thank you very much.
Mr. O'HARA. I have been advised that there are several persons in the hearing room today who, although they do not appear on the list of scheduled witnesses, feel that they have something to contribute to our discussion. Among them is Mrs. James Snyder, past president of the Senior Citizens' Association of Paradise, Calif.
If Mrs. Snyder would come forward and give us the benefit of her views, we would like to hear them.
Would you please identify yourself to the reporter?
STATEMENT OF MRS. JAMES R. SNYDER, PAST PRESIDENT OF
PARADISE SENIOR CITIZENS' ASSOCIATION
Mrs. SNYDER. I am speaking for myself as notice of this hearing reached us too late to bring it before our association.
Paradise is a semirural area of some 10,000 persons. It is somewhat of a retirement community; 50 percent of our population is 50 to 55 years
about one-fourth is over 65. Our association has around 350 members. We are a self-governing group and have help from our recreation department and from the local Soroptomist Club. Our program is educational, recreational, and community oriented.
I was privileged to attend the White House Conference on Aging. It is gratifying to see the effort that has followed this Conference, in giving the senior citizens of the United States their just recognition in Government thinking and spending. Great strides have been taken in the fields pertinent to senior needs. There is much more to be done.
It seems to me that concentration of efforts in one group such as this proposed Commission would be to the benefit of all concerned.
In our own local group we have asked for and received help from the staff of our State advisory committee on aging all through our years of existence. However, the senior citizens movement in our State continues to develop so rapidly that we need more staff to meet the requests for aid in organization, for speaking engagements and for training of volunteer leaders. I take it that this bill may relieve that situation at least in part.
In our local situation we have organized a community committee on aging. This committee could well do with more assistance in developing local needs.
We have visions of a drop-in center, a visiting nurse, homemaker service, opportunities for trips and other services which are beyond our efforts alone no matter how much we try to accomplish them.
Thank you for this opportunity to be heard, and to give you a picture from the grassroots level.
Mr. O'HARA. Thank you, Mrs. Snyder. We appreciate your coming to Sacramento to give us the benefit of your experience in these matters. I was interested in your comment with regard to more trained personnel. I think your testimony and that of some others clearly indicates that if we hope to really meet the needs of the aged, we are going to need more trained personnel. Wouldn't you say that is true ?
Mrs. SNYDER. We can't do it out in the rural areas and away from urban centers unless we do have some more training, and the only opportunity we have is to bring someone to us in some of those areas. Mr. O'HARA. Mr. Giaimo?
Mr. GIAIMO. I have no questions, Mrs. Snyder, but I certainly want to thank you for coming.
Mrs. SNYDER. It has been a pleasure.
Would you please come forward!
OF LODI, CALIF. Mrs. ATHEY. My greatest trouble, I think, is in finding old people who have self-starters and all the evidence that has been presented today about leadership I think is greatly needed because there are so many elderly people who have to be pushed. They don't really get interested in anything unless they are sort of baited. You have to give them something to aim at. They don't seem to have aims of their
The ones who do have don't really need the help that we have in our kind of club. They will enjoy themselves regardless of whether there are clubs or not, but the people who need us don't come to us. We have to go get them. They are in the rest homes, people who are alone, have no relatives, they have outlived their friends. We have found a great many of them in Lodi. We have helped some of them, but we aren't able to help enough of them, because they aren't able to get out and we haven't got the means to get them out. We haven't the facilities.
I have been in rest homes where people were simply bored to death because they had nothing to do but watch television or read old magazines. These are low cost homes for pensioners or people on social security. Those are the people that really need the help of the clubs that we have, the local senior citizen's clubs, and that I think is where your leadership is greatly needed, in getting these clubs going and giving help to the people who really need it, not to the people who will gather wherever there is a gathering. Thank you.
Mr. O'HARA. Mrs. Athey, I think you are right. Do you think, as some of our other witnesses have indicated they do, that the reluctance of some elderly persons to participate on their own, or to initiate things, is in part a product of our attitude toward older persons?
Mrs. ATHEY. Yes, I think so. It is a matter of education to a great extent.
Mr. O'HARA. If our society were to recognize changes that have occurred in the last 50 or 100 years in the productive lifespan and so forth, I think we wouldn't have as many older persons retiring within themselves as we have today, do you?
Mrs. ATHEY. No. I don't believe so.
Mr. GIAIMO. I just wanted to comment in my own hometown they have started a senior citizen's club, and comment on exactly what you brought forth in the hearings today, how difficult it is to get the people, many of the people to come. The ones that would get the most benefit from it, they are extremely reticent and they have to beg them and literally drag them on, and they will say, well, I will come to one meeting, and they will have to go back after them.
And my question is, realizing that this is a state of mind, with the people that are trying to get them out, do the clubs keep after them or do they just let them go? Mrs. ATHEY. It all depends. Some of us do and some of us don't
. Some of us are very satisfied with the clubs as they are. They don't care about the people who are not members. Others of us do care and we try to get these people into our clubs, and that is another thing. If you have a number of people who are satisfied with what they have, they don't try to do any more. We need the people who want to make things better, who want more than they have now, want to do more.
Mr. O'HARA. Training for leadership, which could be fitted into this project, I think would be most helpful in the sort of situation you describe.
Mrs. ATHEY. Yes. It would.
Mr. O'HARA. I want to congratulate you for your efforts in leadership with or without training for leadership.
Mrs. ATHEY. No training.
Mr. O'HARA. Thank you for taking the time to appear before us today. Mr. ELLSWORTH. Could we have the name of your
Mr. O'HARA. Mr. Claffke, I understand, has returned to the room and is ready to testify. We would like to hear him. STATEMENT OF KARL CLAFFKE, PARADISE SENIOR CITIZENS
ASSOCIATION, PARADISE, CALIF. Mr. CLAFFKE. I am a little handicapped. That meter out there insists on being fed every hour, so I don't know what my compatriots have spoken of.
Mr. O'Hara. I would say that running back and forth to that meter every hour shows you are in very good physical condition.
Mr. CLAFFKE. I am getting my exercise.
Mr. O'HARA. Will you proceed with your statement ?
Mr. CLAFFKE. Well, the thing of course, that we are handicapped in meeting in a school building, which permits us only to meet on Saturday afternoons, 1 day a week. If we had additional space or more space, we could add to the activities that we indulge in.
Ours is almost purely a recreational type of program. It could be much more if we had additional space for crafts and handiwork and meetings such as book clubs or readings or that sort of thing. By that I don't mean just reading from books, but discussions of letters, politics, and so forth.
I think the thing that our club has done most for its members is the fact that it gives them a chance to get together, to make new friends, to hang onto the friends that they already have. It is an incentive for living. That's the way I look at it.
We have in our orchestra three members, one I think is 76, one is 79, and another one is 89, and I think without that orchestra, they would just fold up and die.
I think the same thing perhaps applies to some other members who just wait for Saturday afternoon to come so that they can get out with these friends of theirs. I think it was Chauncey DePugh who said that neglect or indifference is the thing that drives people into loneliness and melancholy. And I think that your senior citizens need attention the same as children do. They need to feel secure in their homes with their children, with their friends, with their churches and so forth, and here we have an opportunity to give them part of that security. They know that they are welcome. They know there is a place for them in that community. And I think our club has gone a long way in providing that sort of thing.
We have another phase-perhaps I shouldn't mention this since I am a confirmed bachelor, but a department called Romance, Unlimited. I think we have had 17 weddings in the group since it was organized, and more power to them. A person beyond 65 suddenly who finds a companion for the declining years of his life, deserves it and needs that companionship.
Mr. GIAIMO. Do you belong to that club, sir?
Mr. CLAFFKE. Unfortunately, I am a confirmed bachelor. However, sitting on the sidelines for almost 70 years, I certainly enjoy what other people enjoy, and I appreciate the things that the club has done for them, and can do for them. We are working hard to build up a fund to put up our own building. I don't know whether my compatriot spoke of that or not, but perhaps we have been a little too independent in working for that, because so far we have not asked the community for anything. However, I feel that when we get up to $15,000 or $16,000, maybe we will ask them to match it, not in increased taxes or a bond issue, but in donations, then we can get our own building where we can meet daily, different organizations can meet on different days of the week, so we won't be purely a recreational group. I hope that has contributed something.
Mr. O'HARA. Mr. Claffke, I am certainly pleased that you didn't decide to stay out in the car. I have enjoyed your testimony. You