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<v Speaker>[music] I should have sat down and been a- an economic professor and figured all <v Speaker>that out years ago when I was young. <v Speaker>But I don't think many women do. I mean, you just live from paycheck to paycheck. <v Lindsay Wagner>Within Illinois, three quarters of the elderly poor are women. <v Speaker 2>Most of the people who come to us are elderly people on Social <v Speaker 2>Security. Many of them can hardly make it from one check <v Speaker 2>to another. <v Speaker 3>If they're not poor enough, they can't qualify for Medicaid. <v Speaker 3>Those kind of people are in a particularly vulnerable situation. <v Speaker 4>Okay, I'll make it some time, but ain't nothing <v Speaker 4>we can do about it seem like because it's in the government's hand. <v Lindsay Wagner>Tonight on WTTW Journal, we examine the harsh realities a woman <v Lindsay Wagner>may face when she gets old. <v Lindsay Wagner>Hello, I'm Lindsay Wagner. <v Lindsay Wagner>The women you're about to meet were once young and vibrant and ageless. <v Lindsay Wagner>Now, in their later years, they're facing hardships that were unimaginable in their
<v Lindsay Wagner>youth. Their stories challenge us to take a hard look at an issue that <v Lindsay Wagner>most of us, particularly women, would rather avoid. <v Lindsay Wagner>In many ways, aging is a woman's issue. <v Lindsay Wagner>Women are more likely to live longer, live alone and live in poverty. <v Lindsay Wagner>In the state of Illinois, 15 percent of all elderly women live below the <v Lindsay Wagner>poverty line. And as women get older, their risk of poverty increases. <v Lindsay Wagner>Today's older women had very few opportunities to gain financial independence. <v Lindsay Wagner>They were discouraged from working outside the home, and when they did, they earned <v Lindsay Wagner>less and they received fewer benefits, if any. <v Lindsay Wagner>Not many women could have anticipated that living a traditional life would <v Lindsay Wagner>have a profound and potentially devastating effect on their older years. <v Lindsay Wagner>Women who are elderly today faced the beginning of their adult lives in the postwar years <v Lindsay Wagner>when [jazzy music begins] a victorious nation swelled with optimism in the promise of
<v Lindsay Wagner>enduring prosperity. Rosie the Riveter was no longer needed, and women were asked <v Lindsay Wagner>to lay down their tool belts and their briefcases to return to more conventional roles. <v Lindsay Wagner>Once again, it was expected that a woman would marry, raise a family and put her trust <v Lindsay Wagner>in the male breadwinner. <v Speaker>See, the guys were all coming home from the service, you know. And <v Speaker>every weekend they'd all meet at the wishing post to hang out, <v Speaker>and they'd get a little too much to drink and take somebody up to Iowa <v Speaker>City, Iowa, and as fast as you go to the preacher, and the license, <v Speaker>and the hospital there does the blood testing. <v Speaker>As fast as you can do all that you're married, you know. <v Lindsay Wagner>Most women of Norma's generation married young and were encouraged to leave their careers <v Lindsay Wagner>behind. Norma was no different. <v Lindsay Wagner>She eloped to Iowa City and upon her return was expelled from nurses training. <v Lindsay Wagner>Married women were not allowed. <v Norma>Well, I was married twice. I was married in '48 and divorced, <v Norma>no children, and I waited till '53
<v Norma>to get married again. <v Norma>I married a widower with 2 children, 2 boys. <v Norma>That's the one that's skipped out [laughs]. <v Norma>He didn't want to play house no more. <v Norma>Norma was left to support herself and her son. <v Norma>Without nurses training, she worked as a nurse's aide and later as an in-home health <v Norma>worker, low paying service jobs, principally held by women. <v Janet Otwell>I think people are just really beginning to realize that what happens to you as <v Janet Otwell>a woman, as you are growing up and going through your younger <v Janet Otwell>and midlife years, has a real impact on how you <v Janet Otwell>are able to handle your financial arrangements and whether you're living in poverty or <v Janet Otwell>not after you reach your older years. <v Norma>When you're working the kind of work I'm working and juggling the books like that, one <v Norma>month I'm working, and the next month the patient died or went in a nursing <v Norma>home or whatever, you know, and you got no income coming in,
<v Norma>so- <v Lindsay Wagner>Norma worked without benefits or job security. <v Lindsay Wagner>One day last summer, without money to pay the rent, Norma was evicted. <v Norma>So as every day goes by, you just know you're not going to make that rent. <v Norma>So I thought, sure, I'm not afraid to tell a landlord that. <v Norma>I'd rather be upfront than keep avoid answering the door or the phone. <v Norma>I mean, I'm not going to live like that for nobody, you know. <v Norma>And uh- but what happens to me when I get thrown <v Norma>out of here? That's the depressing part. <v Lindsay Wagner>Today, Norma lives in subsidized housing. <v Lindsay Wagner>Without it, her monthly income of $365 would leave her without even <v Lindsay Wagner>a decent place to live. The demand for affordable housing far exceeds the <v Lindsay Wagner>supply. For the elderly living alone, who are predominantly women, nearly half of <v Lindsay Wagner>their income is spent on housing. <v Norma>I should have sat down and been a economic professor and figured all that out years <v Norma>ago when I was young. But I don't think many women do.
<v Norma>I mean, you just live from paycheck to paycheck, keep getting another job <v Norma>if you need more, and uh just- just the way it goes. <v Norma>[music] <v Pat Taylor>Probably the most important thing I think in our society is some kind of subsidized <v Pat Taylor>housing or senior housing or for all ages. <v Pat Taylor>It seems to be the- the most economical way to help people live dignified lives and be <v Pat Taylor>the least res- least cost to society, actually. <v Pat Taylor>And yet, we've done a fine job of reducing the number of those homes available. <v Pat Taylor>[music] <v Ms. Adams>At the time when you, you know, seem like everything going your way, <v Ms. Adams>you really don't think too much, you know, because I didn't have no proble- no health <v Ms. Adams>problem. I was working and after he passed away, I lived. <v Ms. Adams>You know, I know what- I ha- my life had to keep going. <v Ms. Adams>[music] <v Lindsay Wagner>Miss Adams was a domestic worker. She never dreamed her health would one day prevent her <v Lindsay Wagner>from working. Like 1 in 3 older minority women, Ms. <v Lindsay Wagner>Adams' income is below the poverty line.
<v Ms. Adams>I knew I had diabetes, and then uh my leg <v Ms. Adams>went to swelling and giving me a lot of problem, you know, my feet. <v Ms. Adams>I went into the hospital, and he told me, he said, George, you gonna have to <v Ms. Adams>come in so we gonna have to operate on this leg right away. <v Ms. Adams>I didn't do it. And I waited about two weeks. <v Ms. Adams>And then, one morning I got up and I looked at my toenail and it was dark green looking, <v Ms. Adams>you know, blue lookingt. And I said oh, God, I better get out of here. <v Ms. Adams>So I went on over there. <v Lindsay Wagner>After Ms. Adams' stay in the hospital, she became a client of the 5 hospital homebound <v Lindsay Wagner>elderly program. <v Cara>Hi, Ms. Adams. It's Cara.I'm on my way, OK. <v Cara>All right. Bye bye. <v Lindsay Wagner>Cara ?Paseone? is her caseworker. <v Cara>Ms. Adams is is pretty low income. <v Cara>She gets the minimum Social Security. <v Cara>Therefore, she's eligible for some food stamps. <v Cara>She isn't always eligible for a Medicaid card. <v Cara>She's on what's called a spend down, which means that she will get it some months <v Cara>depending on how much um- how many medical bills she she's paid.
<v Cara>So in the months that she is eligible for Medicaid, then that helps pay for her <v Cara>medications. <v Lindsay Wagner>Ms. Adams spends a large portion of her income on health care and medications, as do many <v Lindsay Wagner>older women who suffer from multiple chronic illness. <v Cara>[knocks] Okay, it's Cara. <v Cara>Hi, Ms. Adams. How are you doing? <v Ms. Adams>OK. How are you? <v Cara>Okay. How have you been? <v Ms. Adams>I have- fine. <v Cara>Just had a birthday. <v Ms. Adams>Yes. <v Lindsay Wagner>The fastest growing segment of the elderly population is the frail elderly, <v Lindsay Wagner>a group which also tends to be the poorest. <v Cara>Do you have any bills that you need for me to look at? <v Ms. Adams>Yes. <v Cara>Where- where are they at? Let's take a look at them. <v Ms. Adams>See them ?inaudible? bills. Man, I had so many letters. <v Ms. Adams>So I might have 5 and 6 letters a day in my mailbox <v Ms. Adams>from Grant Hospital. Oh, child. <v Ms. Adams>Carla help me out a whole lot, she'd say Ms. <v Ms. Adams>Adams, don't worry. I'd be so nervous because I don't like bills and can't <v Ms. Adams>pay em, and I didn't have the money to pay- and they know I didn't have the money to pay
<v Ms. Adams>em. But see, they just be on me anyway, and some of em <v Ms. Adams>turn me over to the collector man. You know, and I had to pay that. <v Ms. Adams>So I was in a mess here, child, for a couple of years back. <v Lindsay Wagner>Because her social security income is so low, Ms. <v Lindsay Wagner>Adams qualifies for some state and federal aid, but is not poor enough to receive <v Lindsay Wagner>aid consistently. Cara and Ms. <v Lindsay Wagner>Adams play a shell game with health care, waiting to scheduled doctor's appointments for <v Lindsay Wagner>when there may be a Medicaid card. <v Lindsay Wagner>Cara spends a huge portion of her time with Ms. <v Lindsay Wagner>Adams trying to make sense of the public aid system and wading through Ms. <v Lindsay Wagner>Adams' medical bills. <v Cara>So you want to apply these toward your spend down, right? <v Ms. Adams>You oughtta- you should have enough now, right? <v Cara>Yeah, I have um-. <v Cara>Generally, when- if they have Medicare and they're pretty low income, they can't afford a <v Cara>supplemental insurance to cover the other 20 percent that Medicare doesn't cover. <v Cara>And if they're not poor enough, they can't qualify for Medicaid to cover those. <v Cara>Those kind of people are in a particularly vulnerable situation.
<v Cara>[music] <v Cara>A lot of older women are just- just have a really low income. <v Cara>They're just living on minimal Social Security or SSI. <v Cara>Not too many get a pension to help supplement that. <v Cara>So they're forced to- to try and survive and pay their bills out of what little Social <v Cara>Security they get. <v Roosevelt>This Social Security measure gives at least some <v Roosevelt>protection to 30 millions of our citizens. <v Betty>This is the man that instigated the Social Security in the first place. <v Betty>I mean, the man had a lot of vision as to helping older <v Betty>people, but the only thing wrong with it is that somewhere <v Betty>along the way, the job that he had wanted done <v Betty>isn't really doing the job. It's not taking care of us as we get older. <v Betty>We are barely surviving on it, and I don't think that's what he planned at. <v Paul Barnes>The original purpose of Social Security when the system was founded
<v Paul Barnes>in 1935 was to replace, in part, <v Paul Barnes>income that's lost by a worker at retirement. <v Paul Barnes>It was not the original intent or the original purpose of Social Security to be <v Paul Barnes>the sole support for a worker at retirement. <v Lindsay Wagner>And yet, for Betty and more than one third of all elderly, unmarried women, there was no <v Lindsay Wagner>choice. Social Security provides at least 90 percent of their income. <v Betty>And so I guess I was like all the rest of them. <v Betty>I just took it for granted that my government was going to take care of me, and <v Betty>had to wait until I got old enough to start drawing it to realize it <v Betty>wasn't doing the job. <v Lindsay Wagner>The formula for calculating Social Security benefits is the same for men and women, but <v Lindsay Wagner>women typically receive less. <v Lindsay Wagner>The formula does not take into account the raising of a family or taking care of others: <v Lindsay Wagner>roles traditionally held by women. <v Paul Barnes>So by virtue of the fact that they enter the workforce later in life, many <v Paul Barnes>of them drop out of the workforce to care for children, and now we're seeing many
<v Paul Barnes>drop out of the workforce to care for aged parents, they wind <v Paul Barnes>up with a number of 0 years in their computation. <v Paul Barnes>So in the case of women, the benefit is generally less <v Paul Barnes>because they work fewer years and have earned less money. <v Lindsay Wagner>Women may also have to live on less when they're widowed. <v Lindsay Wagner>For a couple living on Social Security, their income is based on combined payments to a <v Lindsay Wagner>retired worker and his wife. <v Lindsay Wagner>As a widow, her personal benefits will increase. <v Lindsay Wagner>However, because she loses the benefit paid to her husband, her monthly income <v Lindsay Wagner>will only be 67 percent of what they were living on as a couple. <v Lindsay Wagner>The Social Security benefit formula for survivors dramatically affects women, <v Lindsay Wagner>since half of all women over 65 are widows. <v Pat Taylor>Two people can live really cheaper than one. <v Pat Taylor>So when the one dies, the one just has the one income coming in. <v Pat Taylor>And in this country, we still have most older women living on nothing but Social <v Pat Taylor>Security, which is hard for people to believe.
<v Pat Taylor>You can understand why their lifestyle is gonna be. <v Lindsay Wagner>Pensions are the leading supplement to Social Security. <v Lindsay Wagner>Yet only 23 percent of women over 65 receive any sort of pension <v Lindsay Wagner>income. <v Elaine Fox>As homemakers, during the 30s, 40s, 50s, they were not <v Elaine Fox>earning a pension; they were dependent upon their husbands' pensions. <v Elaine Fox>The laws were such that if their husband indeed had a pension, <v Elaine Fox>their husband necessarily would not assign them as beneficiary. <v Elaine Fox>It might have been on purpose, or it might have been <v Elaine Fox>because the husband may have wanted to take more money during his lifetime. <v Elaine Fox>[music] And so you have women who are left with nothing when their husbands die. <v Ms. Burgess>I never worked at anything <v Ms. Burgess>that that I could draw pension on, you know. <v Ms. Burgess>A place that long. <v Lindsay Wagner>Ms. Burgess is blind and suffers from many physical problems, including diabetes, and <v Lindsay Wagner>she qualifies for several government assistance programs.
<v Lindsay Wagner>However, benefits from these programs can work in conflict. <v Lindsay Wagner>Last December, she received a small increase in her Social Security payment. <v Lindsay Wagner>But when she didn't receive her food stamps for the month, she called her caseworker. <v Ms. Burgess>I call her twice- an extra- a extra. <v Ms. Burgess>I said Ms. ?inaudible?, uh you uh- I didn't get my stamps this month. <v Ms. Burgess>She said, well you're not eligible for em because you got a raise on your social security. <v Lindsay Wagner>The increase in Ms. Burgess's payment had changed her eligibility for public aid. <v Lindsay Wagner>While Social Security was putting $16 in one pocket, public aid took $92 <v Lindsay Wagner>in food stamps out of the other. Because of her raise, Ms. <v Lindsay Wagner>Burgess's income actually dropped $82. <v Ms. Burgess>So it's just kind of hard on you sometime when you especially don't have <v Ms. Burgess>much and look like what little bit you have some time they take that away from <v Ms. Burgess>you. Cause the stamp did help me out pretty good. <v Ms. Burgess>You know, buying my food, by me being a diabetic. <v Ms. Burgess>I have to have a certain kind of food.
<v Ms. Burgess>You can't eat any and everything. <v Ms. Burgess>And uh buy all your medication, like <v Ms. Burgess>my insulin, my heart medicine, my- I have got to- got <v Ms. Burgess>to get medicine for that. <v Ms. Burgess>[music] So it's just really tough. <v Ms. Burgess>You can't hardly make it sometime. <v Ms. Burgess>But, ain't nothing we can do about it seems like, because it's in the government's hand. <v Lindsay Wagner>As America ages, government spending for senior support services has not kept pace <v Lindsay Wagner>with the rapid growth of the elderly population. <v Jonathan Lavin>We've uh receive a certain amount of dollars from the federal government, and <v Jonathan Lavin>over the last 12 years, those dollars have basically been stagnant. <v Jonathan Lavin>There have been no movement in funding of senior service programs at the federal level <v Jonathan Lavin>anywhere near the cost of living increases, and then the phenomenal growth of our senior <v Jonathan Lavin>population nationwide. <v Jonathan Lavin>So we haven't really grasped the national implications of aging outside of the Social <v Jonathan Lavin>Security program, Medicare programs, which, you know, balloon in terms of their costs.
<v Jonathan Lavin>Illinois has met many more of the needs than almost any other state <v Jonathan Lavin>in the union. But here, this recession is reaching Illinois <v Jonathan Lavin>and we're seeing that there's- there still hasn't been a completely- a <v Jonathan Lavin>complete institutionization of that support. <v Lindsay Wagner>For the poorest of the poor elderly, additional government aid is available. <v Lindsay Wagner>Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, is a federal needs-based <v Lindsay Wagner>program to help the blind, disabled and aged who have limited means. <v Lindsay Wagner>In 1991, three quarters of those receiving SSI on the basis of age <v Lindsay Wagner>were women. <v Fay Lomax Cook>One would expect that public assistance for the old, Supplemental Security <v Fay Lomax Cook>Income, would solve the problem of poverty for the old, but <v Fay Lomax Cook>in fact it doesn't, and it doesn't for two reasons. <v Fay Lomax Cook>Number one, even if you get SSI, it doesn't bring you <v Fay Lomax Cook>above the poverty line. <v Fay Lomax Cook>SSI gives you an income below the poverty line.
<v Fay Lomax Cook>Second, many elderly people who are eligible for SSI simply do <v Fay Lomax Cook>not apply for SSI. <v Fay Lomax Cook>There are variety of reasons for this. <v Fay Lomax Cook>Some is that they just don't want to ask for help. <v Fay Lomax Cook>They're afraid they'll be stigmatized. <v Fay Lomax Cook>Another reason is that some people just don't know about it. <v Fay Lomax Cook>But for whatever reason there are poor elderly persons <v Fay Lomax Cook>who are eligible for SSI and not getting it. <v Fay Lomax Cook>And even those who are getting it are not getting enough to get out of poverty. <v Fay Lomax Cook>[music] <v Connie>The real object of the game from day one was <v Connie>you're going to be a married lady and you're going to be a mother and you're going <v Connie>to raise children. <v Connie>I mean, we graduate from high school in '47, and it was just after the war <v Connie>was over. And so everything was hyped as <v Connie>the boys are back, and the world is wonderful, and uh we'll <v Connie>go off into the sunset.
<v Lindsay Wagner>For young women of the 30s, 40s and 50s, planning a secure future meant finding <v Lindsay Wagner>the right man and settling down. <v Lindsay Wagner>In 1954, Connie thought her journey into the sunset had begun. <v Lindsay Wagner>She met and married Bob. They had three children. <v Lindsay Wagner>And like many middle-class women, she believed her future was assured. <v Connie>We um had problems with communication between him and myself, <v Connie>and unfortunately, alcohol entered the picture. <v Connie>And of course, my Catholic upbringing said this marriage is <v Connie>gonna work no matter what, so I hung in there for a total of 25 <v Connie>years. But in trying to divorce him, <v Connie>it got pretty awful. <v Lindsay Wagner>Without a husband to rely on, Connie suddenly had to support herself and soon realized <v Lindsay Wagner>she had few skills that would provide the security she once had. <v Connie>I was 50 at the time that I was divorced and <v Connie>it was like, all right, now go out and get a job and support <v Connie>yourself. And I had no qualifications.
<v Connie>I was trained to be a wife, to be a mother and to <v Connie>be a entertainment committee of one. <v Connie>You are making and enhancing your husband's job, and <v Connie>you're there for the downs as well as the ups, and your <v Connie>reward is no retirement. <v Lindsay Wagner>In 1986, Connie remarried. <v Lindsay Wagner>Happily settled, she believed that with Neil, her emotional and financial security was <v Lindsay Wagner>restored. Without warning, Connie would again find herself alone. <v Connie>We were out for dinner with my son-in-law, and we came home, [music] <v Connie>and Neil died in my arms from a heart attack that <v Connie>was uh two weeks before we would have been married two years. <v Connie>And so I was back to being alone again <v Connie>and trying to start my life all over again. <v Anne Diamond>If you should ever be in a divorce situation or your husband should die, you're in a
<v Anne Diamond>terrible situation. First of all, you're dealing with a tragedy and you have to have the <v Anne Diamond>emotional wherewithal to get through that. <v Anne Diamond>On top of that, you're adding this financial burden that you've never wanted in the first <v Anne Diamond>place. <v Lindsay Wagner>Anne Diamond is a financial planner. <v Lindsay Wagner>She travels the country with a simple message for women: take control. <v Anne Diamond>What it means for women, because we live longer, is we need to accumulate <v Anne Diamond>a larger sum of money. And so if that means that we're not going to get it from Social <v Anne Diamond>Security, we're not going to get it from our employers, then we're going to have to do it <v Anne Diamond>ourselves. <v Elaine Fox>If you can't depend on anybody else, and even if you have a wonderful marriage <v Elaine Fox>and a wonderful relationship with a husband, a woman has <v Elaine Fox>to have a career or expertise or training <v Elaine Fox>and also have some fiscal responsibility herself. <v Anne Diamond>The women of my generation and those before me really grew up thinking this wasn't our <v Anne Diamond>job. This was someone else's job. <v Anne Diamond>You see, we grew up in families where the boys knew <v Anne Diamond>and were aware that they were supposed to do this, but we really never got that message.
<v Lindsay Wagner>The cultural stereotype of men are better at math and women, English, is still <v Lindsay Wagner>widespread. Women must break away from this trap and prepare financially <v Lindsay Wagner>for how they wish to live in their later years. <v Lindsay Wagner>A retirement plan begins with information which only requires a small investment in time. <v Paul Barnes>What we suggest that people do is that well in advance of retirement <v Paul Barnes>that they actually get a benefit estimate, which we can provide. <v Paul Barnes>As a matter of fact, we now have the capability to provide estimates to young people. <v Anne Diamond>There's nothing sadder than getting a person who is thinking about retiring, who's coming <v Anne Diamond>in for private counseling and say- and saying, I wish I had done this, or <v Anne Diamond>if only I had known to participate in my plan. <v Anne Diamond>Why didn't somebody tell me that? <v Anne Diamond>I'm telling them now. And so they have a choice now. <v Lindsay Wagner>For seniors who need additional income, agencies such as the National Center and Caucus <v Lindsay Wagner>on Black Aged, can help with employment training and support services. <v Lindsay Wagner>The National Center primarily helps minority elderly who often require greater
<v Lindsay Wagner>assistance because of past discriminations which limited their opportunities. <v Elaine Wright>Approximately 75 percent of the clients on our program are women. <v Elaine Wright>Some can't write, some cannot read. <v Elaine Wright>So we have to assist. We have to explain, which we do ordinarily anyway. <v Elaine Wright>But we take the time to make sure that they understand what it is they're signing, the <v Elaine Wright>purpose of the documents in order to determine the eligibility status, and also <v Elaine Wright>to assist us in finding out what kind of supportive services we need to provide. <v Lindsay Wagner>Programs such as the Salvation Army's front line feeding program attempt to make a small <v Lindsay Wagner>dent in the wall of poverty. <v Lindsay Wagner>Neighborhood centers and religious organizations are convenient, usually offer aid <v Lindsay Wagner>quickly without strict requirements and can provide a strong sense of community. <v Lindsay Wagner>[music] <v Betty>I was having kind of- little bit of problems where <v Betty>it wasn't the end of the month, believe it or not, it was the beginning of the month. <v Betty>I mean would get my check and it was like a week later, I was broke.
<v Lindsay Wagner>To get through the month, Betty goes to a nearby mission for help. <v Betty>Well, Sister Fields, she gives food differently than most places do. <v Betty>Most places only give food once a month. <v Betty>She gives food every week. <v Betty>So I'm kind of getting both things that I needed, the food and <v Betty>the spiritual guidance. <v Sister Eula Fields>Most of the people who come to us are elderly people <v Sister Eula Fields>on Social Security. <v Sister Eula Fields>Many of them um can hardly make <v Sister Eula Fields>it from one check to another without the services that we provide here <v Sister Eula Fields>at Chicago Missionary Society. <v Sister Eula Fields>They would be hungry, very hungry before the month is over. <v Sister Eula Fields (singing)>I'd rather have Jesus than silver or gold. <v Jonathan Lavin>The best thing is to be able to take care of yourself. It is to have the income and be
<v Jonathan Lavin>able to choose the services and be able to decide where you're going to live and how <v Jonathan Lavin>you're going to live. But, those options are narrowed constantly, and you- and you <v Jonathan Lavin>get to a point where you- if you're frail and you have functional limitations, <v Jonathan Lavin>you're probably going to need some kind of help. <v Speaker>[all singing] <v Betty>I thought that I would live like I had lived before. <v Betty>Only, I found that doesn't happen. <v Betty>I don't live like I used to. <v Betty>The money doesn't go as far. <v Betty>You're almost afraid to heat your house for fear that you're going to have to take your <v Betty>whole check just to pay for your gas bill and your light bill. <v Sister Eula Fields> I would like to hear from Betty, cause she has a song <v Sister Eula Fields>that's- it's so beautiful. <v Sister Eula Fields>It shows her determination, even though- <v Fay Lomax Cook>Should we have more children in Head Start?
<v Fay Lomax Cook>Should we raise teacher salaries? <v Fay Lomax Cook>Or should we try to eliminate the problem of poverty for old people? <v Fay Lomax Cook>How can we choose among the vast array of alternatives? <v Fay Lomax Cook>And I think that in this era in this country, <v Fay Lomax Cook>that we should be able to accomplish all of those objectives <v Fay Lomax Cook>and that we shouldn't have to choose between them. <v Betty>I'm very glad to be here. <v Betty>I haven't been here for a while. I had been in the hospital, <v Betty>and I'm very happy to see all of you people here again. <v Betty (singing)>When I first found Jesus, something o'er me fell. Like lightning- <v Betty>I get sick. I get to hurting. <v Betty>I sound like a broken record. <v Betty>Oh, my leg hurts. <v Betty>Oh, this hurts. Who wants to listen to that? <v Betty>Nobody. <v Betty>So you suffer it and you just try to get along the best you can, and
<v Betty>there's so many just like me, so many of em out there. <v Betty>And I feel for em because I know what they're going through. <v Speaker>[all singing hymn together] <v Pat Taylor>I don't think though most people realize how grim the future is, because there's all <v Pat Taylor>sorts of data and statistics that say that we're going to have more poverty among older <v Pat Taylor>women in the next, you know, what, by the year 2000 than we <v Pat Taylor>do today. It's going to be the one part of our population that's going to become more <v Pat Taylor>poverty stricken. That's why we have to find some other kind of social system in this <v Pat Taylor>country. <v Lindsay Wagner>Increasing numbers of older women are becoming dependent on social programs for their <v Lindsay Wagner>sole support. As they grow older, their chances of beating poverty diminish. <v Lindsay Wagner>The only escape for younger women is economic independence, which is still <v Lindsay Wagner>hindered by inequalities in social policies and in the workplace. <v Lindsay Wagner>[all singing]
<v Betty>And this is what I have to look forward to. <v Betty>And uh sometimes it makes you wonder, you know, is it worth it all? <v Betty>Your job is done, what's left for you? <v Betty>I've got pictures <v Betty>and memories, that's it. Everything else is gone. [singing hymn]
WTTW Journal
When She Grows Old
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WTTW (Television station : Chicago, Ill.)
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The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
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Episode Description
In this special, Lindsay Wagner narrates an exploration of the problems that women face when they are elderly. Through both interviews with experts and elderly women, the program covers income for single, elderly women, as well as poverty of the same, financial planning, pensions, Social Security, medical bills, and the necessity for the renovation of the system. In this special, Lindsay Wagner narrates an exploration of the problems that women face when they are elderly. Through both interviews with experts and elderly women, the program covers income for single, elderly women, as well as poverty of the same, financial planning, pensions, Social Security, medical bills, and the necessity for renovation of the system.
Series Description
"Three years ago, the philanthropic Chicago Community Trust invested three million dollars to use the powerful medium of television to address pressing Chicago problems. The Trust chose WTTW to produce documentaries and town meetings and to purchase programs on three subjects in as many years. The first year was devoted to environmentalism, the second year took on the tough problems of our city's youth -- one documentary was about an adolescent at the crossroads of mature adulthood and delinquency. 1992 was devoted to aging in Chicago and included the programs submitted in this entry, which are: Something to Live For, When She Grows Old, Senior Fair, and 'Celebrity Spots.' "The Chicago Matters project includes extensive promotion and outreach activities, including the enclosed brochure. The project is initiated each year with a seminar bringing together the city's and nation's experts on the subject. "And, WTTW is honored to have had Chicago Matters renewed for another three years. (This year's subject is racism.)"-- 1992 Peabody Awards entry form.
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Producing Organization: WTTW (Television station : Chicago, Ill.)
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The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
Identifier: cpb-aacip-8c130b50743 (Filename)
Format: U-matic
Duration: 0:30:00
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Chicago: “WTTW Journal; When She Grows Old,” 1992-05-06, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 10, 2023,
MLA: “WTTW Journal; When She Grows Old.” 1992-05-06. The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 10, 2023. <>.
APA: WTTW Journal; When She Grows Old. Boston, MA: The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from