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The following program is produced by the University of Michigan broadcasting service under a grant of aid from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. The challenge of aging. Today's program living arrangements for the aged. A program from the series of human behavior social and medical research produced by the University of Michigan broadcasting service with special assistance from the National Health Council and the National help forum. These programs have been developed from interviews with men and women who have the too often unglamorous job of basic research. Research in medicine. The physical sciences social sciences and the behavioral sciences. OK Janelle you will hear what may seem like strange or unfamiliar sob these are the sounds of the participants office his laboratory or his clinic where the interviews were
first conducted. The people you will hear today are Mrs. Mary Cleverley who was a special assistant in the office of the commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration. Mr. NORMAN P. Mason who is the administrator of the United States housing and Home Finance Agency Dr. George Beecham of Kissimmee Florida and Mr. William C. fit age who is the executive director of the American Association of Retired Persons. And my name is Glenn Philips. My first question was addressed to Mr. Mason. What question would you like to see answered about aging. He answered What I would like to have this conference answer for me is whether the responsibility for housing our elderly citizens is solely that of the federal government or does it belong to private individuals. Is it the responsibility of the city the county the state or whose responsibility is it.
And Mrs cleverly you want to sound off on this. I am hardly the one to speak I think because I'm close represent the federal government as far as market insurance is concerned. But we are. Working very hard to have the private investor take their share of the responsibility and show government and private persons can work together. And I know Dacca reach him has got some ideas on this. He actually does look after older citizens. Well I of course the help of the federal government not just in the matter of financing but also in the matter of guidance and advice. Has been a great deal of assistance to anybody who is seriously undertaking to provide housing for retired people in orange gardens for example we've had a great deal of help from. The FHA in the land planning the various parts of the federal
government can be enormously helpful in bringing together information and raising the standards of housing. They are also helpful in finding financing guaranteeing the financing. But I think the primary job is that of private housing to provide the housing for retired people the same as it is their job to provide housing for American citizens generally that you know you work for a lot of organizations that and you have worked for government so you have to have better sides of this. I feel like I'm playing both sides of the street at this point. Actually though I do think it is important to emphasize the role of the individual or people doing for themselves I think that this is a team arrangement. Frequently they do want to look to the government programs your own program to assist in financing but realistically too there are older people who have retired who can find housing better housing than most people are talking about when they're talking about housing for the elderly.
So that I think that your point is a good one that it isn't. It's all of us it seems to me and certainly I think we need to reemphasize the role of the individual in his own responsibility for providing some of those for himself or for themselves as a group. One of my pet projects that we've done the market's insurance for in FHA the Federal Housing Administration in Hartford Connecticut called church homes incorporated and it allows for independent living off healthy elderly people. But I think we should define know for I call on an elderly person that we're talking about is by statute 65 or a female at 62. In public housing they have two different ages you know 65 for the male and 62 for the female. No I don't use the term elderly housing at all. I like to use the term
retirement housing and that is definitely not based on 65 and 62 because retirement starts in this country today for many people at the age of 38. These young men who are coming out of the army with their 20 years service are retiring just as surely and just as definitely retiring to them means they're going to look around get a job they like. And settle down in an area they like and then do something for the rest their lives different from what they've done at 65 if they're healthy. For most people it means exactly the same thing. Retirement does not necessarily mean that we're going to sit down and rock in a rocking chair and be elderly when our are away from housing now. That's true. And yet on the other hand housing is necessary for all ages and it should be good housing. And it is quite true that the problem we've got is not going to be necessarily the independent individual housing orange gardens or the
group housing of California. It needs to fit differing needs of different people and adjust itself so that they can live in them effectively and efficiently for the rest of their lives. You know I think there is something that needs to be emphasized here and I think it's even part of a change of attitude we've often thought of housing for the elderly or elderly housing or something that isn't necessarily good for the community. And I think we have to re-examine that. Your housing project and the one I'm speaking of actually. The community is grateful to have them the contribution they make not only by payroll but in service and all the other kinds of leadership. It seems to me this is something that's desirable. Right that's the kind of housing that people want to have it all they don't want to break in here because I spent the noon hour at this conference being educated on just exactly what you're talking about and that is terminology. One of the reasons that people don't like these things is because we call them projects and this visions to them something strange. I
think I listened to that our banquet speaker of last night who is from Sweden as you know and the great expert on elderly matters in Sweden and he says in Sweden in our housing needs we're getting away from all these terms that we have used to set apart the elderly from the ordinary person and we're getting to understand over there that we want to live on our housing terms to be the same as they are for young folks. This is cleverly you sat there and listened. Did you hear any of this. I heard a great deal of it and I think I can think of specific instances in this country where projects and I'm using that dirty word projects have been refused in the community. They've been refused to have a change in zoning permitted to have a very desirable set of housing units because they were older people and they didn't want them to come into the
community. I think of one particularly vicious attack on a group that was done I believe in California where when the zoning hearing took place is the chief objection was they didn't want it in because older people would smell. It. If ever there were a need for community education I think this is a good example of it because I think too many communities are living in the past in terms of what they thought of as the old folks home rather than housing as no no no this is a tract of housing that people of any age would enjoy. And for them to be so restrictive in terms of zoning it means that they really don't understand what we're talking about. Well we're finding that we have actual proof now that a properly designed housing for the elderly project is not undesirable. It does not depreciate existing property values. It does not hurt the value of single homes in the community. In fact it it if
it's properly designed and properly placed it enhanced is the value because then here is a place for the older people to live near their children and yet not have to be right under the same roof with them. Now to be Chairman you and I were arguing a bit ago about this business. That kind of people we put into a project together. I'll be glad to do good. Try it again to convince you because I feel very strongly that a good retirement community is made up of people of all ages the proportions are greater of the older people in a retirement community. But I think you need families with children. You need people of all ages it should be a balanced community and not just gray haired people getting greyer together. Where our brave act of age and I don't like to drive into my house and have to fight over a child and I suppose I resent these kids who play baseball and do wrestling on my little square of front lawn.
I think maybe we have part of the compromise even though most of the people who live at Grey Gables are within a certain range of rage that range but within the setting there they have younger people who help serve the Neals It's located right within an active community so that you have all ages all around and this is not isolated and I think this is a major difference. I know of one project that we've done the market's financing faught work project again and well I am I can't change it I have it respectable. It's in Audubon Iowa and where they have built a very delightful facility. Instead of project you notice I'm using another word now where they are incorporating an area in the building where the community make meet. In other words they have a separate big auditorium that's too big a word to use for it a big meeting room with its own kitchen its own serving pantry and its own room
and other facilities and the community is encouraged the Chamber of Commerce the Lions the CO wanna send others to come in and have their luncheon meetings their dinner meetings all of them in there so that they are coming to this person's a living area and bringing in the active life of the community. Could I just ask one question yesterday you talk about living facilities with about Mrs. Cleverley. Do you mean single units where the elderly couple may live or do you mean a institutional type of living unit institutional types a dirty word too. I am referring of course to Dr.. Berger and experiences in Sweden but he told me the other day that they have of course the units there were the single couple may live as they have always lived and thereby maintain the dignity of a family. And this particular pride project I'm speaking about
is is one which is but we call non housekeeping. In other words the if the family unit whether it's a one person or a two person family has privacy they have their own bath and their own living sleeping area. But they have their meals together in a dining room. They do not have housekeeping units. Frankly I do not call this institutional living. Other people don't always agree with me. Would this be the type of thing of the living. But the multi unit dwelling or is it not. It's a master unit dwelling set but it's a non housekeeping multi-unit dwelling. I think this describes a little bit about your California set up there we call it a residence because the home also can be misinterpreted. There we can have one or two bedroom apartments most of them are not set up for housekeeping because there are very attractive dining facilities and they have their own private yards
where they can dig around there have a landscape gardener but each has his own place if he has a special brand of flowers that he'd like to grow. Swimming pool they can enjoy and they really do ages. As you say this is a misunderstood word too so that when we speak in terms. Of so-called congregate living this can be very private. This has been designed with that in mind. Heart talk and this afternoon we got into what we were going to do with this in this housing. Besides just live in it. In other words as we retire we're not just going to vegetate. Somebody suggested growing flowers and I just thought of Minnesota or even Washington D.C. today wouldn't be a very good place to grow up. Well that's the advantage of coming to Florida to do it just makes you do it on your windows. I might say other things in our pride and our and our collections of houses however that that we do in these things that are a part of the housing isn't
that part of it to provide. Incentives to do writing or or things of this sort I listened to Dr By Bret talk about a place he's providing in over a yellow knowing where each person is going to have a little shop of his own which he can keep his tools in and lock up. I've got the little shop in my home and one of these days I'm going to use it when you retire. I think we should give a little quote from Ernie bone the public housing man who who unfortunately could not be with us but he's the young the young man I would say in his 50s who is Mr. housing certainly in this country. And he says a public housing agency be it federal or local has always contended that its business was housing and housing only recreational services and social services were the responsibility of the community. This
philosophy has worked out fairly well I'm quoting from any speech here and the Housing Authority furnishes the space and the public a voluntary organization staff furnishes the program. But he says now however we're operating in a different field. We now take into the housing estates a large number of folks over 65 years of age folks who have retired and whose problems are eminent. And I think he means there are health problems maybe there is going to be some change when they can no longer cook their meals and get around. He said We have always a victim families whose incomes go over the ridiculously low maximum limitations in vogue in most places. We know how to evict folks who through no fault of their own become sick senile or helpless. Housing people are not in the health business nor do they wish to get into it. I don't think that word of Vick belongs in there if a person is gets in a state where he can now carry care for himself properly in them. Then we
have facilities in our communities to take care of them. Nurse I would like to the like. I'd like to distinguish between welfare and housing as a private power zing. Man I cannot undertake to provide welfare for the people who come and buy my houses. I do have a quite different sort of responsibility. I've got the responsibility for building the kind of house in which these people can live on their own for as long a time as possible to make it easy housekeeping to make it safe to make it convenient to give them something to do yes so that they may live there comfortably for a longer period of time so that they won't have to go to an institution that they can be on their own. It saves the public money it saves them both money and living satisfaction. Dr. Beecham is proving to me that there are many facets to this problem that some of them. Far as he says it's his responsibility and his responsibility alone as a private individual.
We do have as Mr Bohne poet points out some citizens that we do that are a welfare proposition and I agree with Dr. Beecham it's time we separated these two and understood how much of the elderly are in one and how much in the other. But you know when one of the things that concerns me too we keep talking about everything being brought to it and the community coming in and doing this. I think we forget that some of these people bring a whole lot right back to the community and I'm sure this is true and just not all right to raise their point for example we gave to the citizens of Orange Gardens a community house they funded. That building they provide the programs they provide everything that goes into that building from week to week. They take care of getting the classes up holding the dances it's their responsibility it's and I think it is highly important that individuals run their own lives and as far as possible at whatever age and that we should not have a benevolent institution that Beecham isn't it true that and besides
we are people in the meaning in your in your gardens that you also have the community participating in this to a little bit. Oh we're so remember we're we live inside a city. We're part of that town and I think it's highly important that retirement people be a part of an ongoing community and not be located someplace out in the country away from everybody else. This is part of the communities that's right all are not being separated or isolated they they belong there to Harmony That's right well this is something I guess we all agree on Mrs. cleverly that we all that we ought not to believe lay out in the country somewhere that that when we have housing for my older citizens that it be somewhere near other people. Oh dear. But I as you know I don't have to be included whatever. I try to take you over spot and I'm not on a spot. I just want to say that in my my work I cover all 50
states and Puerto Rico and I have seen housing in all all of these areas and there is no one answer. Some people would like to live in the top of the tree at 19 years of age and let the basket down for their supplies and would be very happy. But the other people who want to live right in a hotel room and right on the corner of market in vine if that's the busiest street in Los Angeles there is no one answer in them. And I think we must be careful we never regiment this thing so much when I go to church on Sunday and some of us would rather watch the ballgame. No I think this is awfully important that we don't think of this as one person these are all different people. There should be different kinds of housing to meet all the needs just as it would be for any age right. I'm thinking for example of one project which some people wouldn't like
but it's in it's in Los Angeles and it's particularly fascinating to me because it's a group of Armenian. Background we were taking care of their own people many of them who don't speak English and they bought Mary Pickford old home not pick fare but the home she had before she married Doug Fairbanks and they have added to it a very interesting. Housing annex which we have insured and it is most successful. And they're coming along there and meeting it one way. But you go to another part of the country and here they will be in a 12 story building with all kinds of facilities in it and we're insuring all kinds. Isn't it interesting that a person like Mary Pickford is especially interested in this problem of the aging. She's one member of the committee which is arranging this great conference is going to take place in Washington in January of 961 the White House conference.
I think you made a very interesting point Mr. Mason when we were in the meeting about a while ago that. We talk about all of these projects around the country as though they need have been met. I think you put it a different way. Now this is for sure. We have just begun to find out what we're ought to do and we don't have to rest on our laurels. We don't even have to admit that a wonderful place like gray Gables or orange gardens are the answer. These are the laboratories in which we're finding out what the answers will be. I wonder if one of you could talk for just a moment about special designs for them. Well I suppose orange Gardens is particularly noted for that because we have undertaken to put into the home the safety features that will make it as safe as possible. They feature such features as no steps at all inside or out of the house. A
floor is that or a nonskid non-slip doors that are all of them full width 32 inches or wider. And all the other features that we can think of to make it easy for example in the bathroom where most accidents occur. We have nothing that will not support the weight of an individual. We try to keep things up off the floor so that people don't have to stoop. We try and keep them down from the ceiling so they don't have to climb up on chairs and in general to make it as easy housekeeping as possible. Now that is good design for any age the families with children come in there and thoroughly love it. They are for example a climb on the. Bathroom fixtures the kids use them for jungle gyms. Let me say though Dr. Beecham that you have to be awfully careful though. You do as a professional design these braces places properly. You don't go around bragging to your customers to the elderly citizens right that you
design this especially for them. Not if you want them to be happy. That's right we knew as you say this is housing for thats done for a purpose but these people want to be treated like other people. Its good housing at any age. I'd like to say something that if if a housing unit is properly designed a person who might have to live in a wheelchair can be independent. And it is possible it is done anyway. Yes it's already illegal in Omaha. I know the Omaha Education Association the teachers there have a project that that is a highrise housekeeping units and I know at least one of the residents is there in or will you mean high rise. That's a dirty word to that. That's a building that is two or more stories and has an elevator. Well I can give you an illustration Norman. My father came down to Orange gardens at the age of 85. He had fallen and broken his hip and was consequently in a
wheelchair. He had been under nursing care until he came down there. It was costing him money to have a private nurse and a stay in a special institution. He came down there and bought a house got remarried lived in a home of his own with his wife and took care of himself simply because he could get that wheelchair through the bathroom door through the bedroom door out of doors when he wanted to go. He was living an independent life and very happy about it. At less money and in his own home two cases where it's actually being done and yet so far as everybody is concerned and so far as we say to the people this is just housing for people. What about the financing of these homes for the elderly people who have reached the age of perhaps a doctor V-chips father who cannot afford it. Is there a type of thing as an insurance or anything in which they can apply for this is an awfully easy question to answer. Money is one of the hardest things to get and money influences the housing this build in this
country there has to be easy financing banks have in some cases been a little slow to invest their funds in these projects because they want to be sure that they have a safe loan. So we have a federal housing insurance program. This means that a local lender makes a loan to an individual to buy a house and that individual though he is of 65 or 70 years of age can buy this house with a long term mortgage on it insured by F.A. Gerri. A long long term low down payment and it's a good loan for the bank because it has this insurance. By the same token they have it for a group of citizens get together if a an institution like a church or a fraternal group or the teacher or teachers yes get together they can have. Borrowed funds which will over it permit them to make it if they can borrow funds with this same type of insurance which permits the lender to
make a long term low downpayment loan and just to be sure that we get this done. There is in the government a Federal National Mortgage Association which would buy that mortgage that's been made past Fannie Mae. The guy just gal the federal national mourning Association will buy that loan so that the local institution doesn't have to worry about anybody here you're so ready we have over 500 national retired teacher affiliates throughout the country and we think they are really in the market now to come to you to support some housing at the local level where they are sort of well. ALL know how I was one of the first three were teachers that we insured. And we now we have them in Oregon and Ohio. Isn't this exciting there are 500 of them. And this is what we're talking about local people meeting a local problem with the federal government to help just to stimulate this to make it possible for local people to do the job but this answers my question that I asked at the start of this conference.
This is the feeling I had to when I was working in government sometimes you feel so remote from it then all of a sudden you see that you're working hand in hand with the people who are out there in the states in the communities. While I have the experience at one time in my life and working with the government I know from that experience how. Ready the government agencies are to provide help and assistance and advice and counsel if it's called for. And on the other hand how much can be done without necessarily spending large amounts of government tax money. If the government and the people get together and cooperate well you'll be interested to know of course. Maybe I should let Mrs cleverly say there's every FHA insured loan is paid for by the people who borrow the money. This is not the taxpayers money. Our thanks to Mrs. Mary Cleverley Mr. Norman P. Mason Dr. George Beecham and Mr. William C. fit for their participation on this
The challenge of aging
Living arrangements for the aged
Producing Organization
University of Michigan
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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This program features interviews with Mary Cleverly, Federal Housing Administration; Norman Mason, U.S. Housing and Home Finance Agency; George Beauchamp, Ph.D., Kissimmee, Florida; and William Fitch, American Association of Retired Persons.
Part of a WUOM series on human behavior, this series seeks to explore the challenges facing the aged.
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Host: Hentoff, Nat
Interviewee: Cleverly, Mary
Interviewee: Mason, Norman
Interviewee: Beauchamp, George
Interviewee: Fitch, William
Producer: Phillips, Glen
Producing Organization: University of Michigan
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 61-28-7 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:47
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Chicago: “The challenge of aging; Living arrangements for the aged,” 1961-05-09, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 15, 2021,
MLA: “The challenge of aging; Living arrangements for the aged.” 1961-05-09. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 15, 2021. <>.
APA: The challenge of aging; Living arrangements for the aged. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from