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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 why is aging a challenge from the series 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 for 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 you know you will hear what may seem like a strange or unfamiliar sob these are the sounds of the participants office his laboratory or his clinic where the interviews were first conducted. You will hear today Dr. Edward L. Bortz chief of the medical service department of the hospital in Philadelphia and chairman of the National Health Forum. And
my name is Glenn Phillips. Dr Boortz said aging is a challenge because of the fact that there are so many more people living in two so-called higher years of life. My first question of Dr. Bortz was the majority of older persons sick or healthy. He answered. It's a very good question Kleiman from the records that are available I guess is said by Dr. Irving large at lunch today 65 percent of the people over 65 years of age are sound and healthy. There's another 20 or 25 percent at from time to time need some medical attention and then there's a relatively small group who are far spent in life's values and these are the ones that society must now treat as an emergency group and for whom there must be more than satisfactory facilities arranged. You suggest of course the financial care not their financial position but
for those who can't afford medical care. How is this going to be attained. Yes this is also one of the major problems to be worked on today. And. Many. Phases of it will have to be explored. Let's begin by saying that according to the Federal Reserve Board statistics they most of the wealth of the nation is in the hands of individuals over 65 years of age. Dr. Laura's again today stated that 65 70 percent of the individuals that were interviewed by his group stated that they had no financial problems at all. But there is a group from 15 to 30 percent for whom satisfactory solutions must be worked out. Now we believe that in the area of voluntary insurance the insurance companies of the nation are working on this and of course due to the rapid increase in
costs of hospital care for these people. And I might say now that the increase in costs is mostly due to the increased cost of labor. But it is a fact at no time in the past have people received such excellent care as they can now receive in a hospital and spite of the fact that they aren't in the hospital very long due to the complicated procedures that they require. It is a very expensive. Procedure now for a certain number of individuals out to local community level who do not have funds or finances to take care of their needs which they should be met. This is a problem for society to work out and I think there is evidence that much is being done I know that the American Medical Association has instructed the doctors of the nation to reduce their fees for people who find medical expense a hardship and I know that the hospitals are working on the same
problem I think that a great advance is going to be made in this field in the next few years. There's often talk certainly about care for the aged. But on the other side of the coin always to every question. What about the individual themselves their own personal financial status. Well of course I think that to begin with let's say that a family is a unit of society the family is a unit of society today and there should be an insurance program for the nation that will take in the needs of the family as a unit. And if this is started when the family as a unit is started then through the years sufficient funds can be build up provided inflation does not ruin the funds that have been accumulated and I being saved for a later rainy day. What
is the great threat to the older people today. Is the threat of inflation that is depreciating the American dollar. This is a topic that I think that the American people should come to grips with immediately and if they want to help the older people financially the first thing would be to re. Return stability and solid value of the American dollar. I hate to preface this next question again with this same phrase but there is so much talk currently and it seems like it's just cropped up overnight. Perhaps I have not been cognizant of it in my years but we talk so much about the aged today and there's so much attention being paid to it through forums like the one which we are attending here in Miami. And what are the needs however of the older people. Are they different from another group.
I think that you can say planet the needs of the older people are basically the needs of individuals in any age to begin with let's say they physically they and they need food they need clothing they need housing. And we know a great deal about what the biological physiological needs of individuals I've got to have adequate nutrition and. This afternoon in a brilliant research symposium Dr. Carr Roald Dahl and Dr. Steven Hall Boston Dr. Dr. Burke head of the Lankan ospital research division discussed various new ideas about the value of exercise for individuals of all ages. The amount of hype but the older people are they all individuals need a well-balanced diet and they need to keep their weight down. They need to have adequate exercise as Paul like you know is so frequently indicated
they'd prescribe for President Eisenhower and all individuals need rest but above this. And what is the qualifying factor in the lives of older people to have a justification for the added years that science is giving them now. We know that no is possible within the realm of knowledge the know how all that is available today to certainly add years to the lives of our older citizens. Now you see we know how and you might very well come back to me and say why. And this becomes a challenge of the first magnitude because why should individuals live longer if they're going to merely extend the period of. DEC raiment and the decadence and senility I think this is a great thread. How long can a person really live.
Yes there's a question that you asked Planetes one of the most commonly asked questions that people all over the nation put to us who are thinking about this. I'm saying that a number of the physiologists who are interested in your ability of the human body the nervous system. Some mama place it as high as one hundred fifty one hundred seventy five years. The distinguished AJ constant physiologist of the University of Calif of Chicago who died a few years ago at the age in the middle 80s used to say that the average Any person who died under one hundred twenty five was dying prematurely. Now we are in clinical practice today are of the opinion that in within the next decade or two it will be a commonplace for people to be living 100. Years out is around century of healthy happy useful existence.
You say that it's going to be possible in the next decade or two to live a hundred years of useful existence. Would this apply to the people who are living in their early. 20s their early 30s. Or when does it apply to future generations. In other words what I'm getting at is this. Is it something that can be done. Well we. Have a stablished a pattern of life our lust to establish a different kind of pattern you know early in your earlier life. To cause a healthier later life. You're asking me whether we can modify and have any influence by what we do and how we act. On how long we're going to live and the answer is an unqualified yes. US me to be more specific and let me say that we can take experimental animals as Dr. Clive McKay the brilliant nutritional chemists of Cornell University in Ithaca has done and he can practically double the lifespan of experimental animals particularly rats. Now these animals.
I have enjoyed the extended period of living have a alertness and a live necessity of cold brightness of honor. And a sense of vitality that is a joy to see. I have no doubt also that men and women by and younger years if they would watch their diet and certainly avoid overweight at any age be certain that they have a well-balanced program of living with adequate exercise said adequate rest. And then to have a job that gives them a sense of satisfaction. Then in addition of course the last 10 job all of the emotional factors that give life meaning and significance that is the relationship area of the affections and the love life of individuals in the last
analysis. Love is the all encompassing emotion that makes life really worthwhile and to be. And the family surrounded by loved ones and to be able to enjoy the affection and respect of one's fellow fellow workers and friends and colleagues and fellow employees. This is pretty essential isn't it for living effectively now. Unfortunately the current attitudes of society up until the present have been to depreciate the older individual. For example at 60 at 65 a person says an employee and good health doing a splendid job. Company too often has a practice on early practice that at 65 they're out. Now this is something this is a roadblock this is one of the barriers to a
successful aging. Because when an individual retires all of a life life retires out of him so far as I'm concerned I think that they ought to move the period of retirement back to the years 85 to 90. I don't look forward to retiring at anytime anytime because we're having too much fun being active. You mentioned in your answer that you have to be surrounded by loved ones not just for the sake of clarification. The distinguished visitor to America from Sweden Dr Ali Bergman Bergrin who is the chief of the Center for the care of aged in. Sweden told me that it's impossible he thought. For three generations to live under the same roof in other words grandparents parents and children. That something else had to be done. You see this is a development that has occurred
in the trance. The change from a rural to an urban society and in the old days when people in families lived on farms and grandparents did find they had space to live within the circle of the family. But let's broaden our concept of the family as a social unit. The parents don't necessarily have to live under the same roof. But my point is that even though they are living separately process and play within the neighborhood or in a distant neighborhood to maintain they friendly love contact the bond within the family and interests because they all need the young and the young need the ohel And will the family as the basic unit
of society. No individual. Male or female young or old is a complete unit. Social and biological unto Himself man as a biological and sociological unit requires the margin of reserve around his needs when the going gets rough. And this is most acceptable and should be at the family and friend and religious group level no. We say that with the deterioration of the family as a social unit there have been great social disorder is appearing which are major in importance in our American society today. The first is the tremendous increase in juvenile delinquency and lack of respect on the part of the youngsters of the country for
their parents and for their schoolteachers. And the second grade social disorder is this respect and apathy towards the older individuals in the community. Society loses. I have often asked people Are we missing a great deal. By not making you more you. Seniors and their great experience and knowledge. Oh I think this is right Glenn you'll see I think our educational philosophy in this nation and our educational training programs have concentrated on the young and they have been in different we we have been an adolescent and overfed under exercise spoiled nation. And I think that we've got to face the facts today because with so many people coming into the rich the gold and the evergreen years of life. You see my philosophy plan as I told you when you
visit us at the Lankan hospital a couple months ago. What's up the higher up the mountain you go the more glorious the view and the longer you live. Provided you have a. Program of continual growth and development up to the point of say optimum maturity. Then if you can maintain yourself at that keeping your body in good physical condition and pro and protecting and providing the social outlets and utilizing your abilities and and useful channels and preserving your own independence and your sense of appreciation of the point of view of others in other words preserving your eye doctor billet. And that seems to me then the longer you live the more wonderful life should be. I like to point out as Longfellow says. Age has its opportunities no less than youth itself though on a
different dress. And as evening twilight fades away the sky is filled with stars invisible by day. This is my philosophy I think we should know as the old Indian poet of ancient India pointed out we should know the bliss of growth. The glory of action and the splendor of beauty and there are intangible values in the mellowing years that have been so sadly up until now neglected and it's in my opinion that a White House conference in January of 1961 as this present conference of the National Health Council should concentrate on the part of the health promoting those values which give lives continued and sustained meaning and justification for living and other words so that if we continue to live and grow with the years we should finally enjoy that sense of achievement and from filament which is within
the realm of possibility of every growing old and changing man and woman and the same goes for our society today. You have mentioned the White House Conference in this present. That's the National Health Forum. And some of their aims what their aim should be. Are there other aims as you see them that they should have before them. Yes I I think that we should take up problems of housing. We should take up problems of education. We should take up problems of work. We could take up problems of financial and insurance support. We should certainly concentrate on the value those that are only not just becoming to be recognised in the lives of older men and women and if we emphasize they see the values in this psycho social area. Here is
where man is unique among all animals and his ability to control and manipulate his environment for his own welfare. But also man has within his own power the ability to improve his health and joy and prove his as emotional discipline and he has psychological and intellectual status and his usefulness to society if he continues to want to achieve and grow over the years he will live the long years successfully happily and with a sense of achievement and fulfillment that is in my opinion the final aim which should be the final aim of every. Only Man and Woman Well can a person really outlived his usefulness to society and themselves. Yes this would take him perhaps our next interview and will be able to go into this but unfortunately medicine today medical science
today can preserve the shall I say the vegetative functions of the human human body that is the circulation the digestive tract function and all of the functions of when at the same time an end as an individual has lost his mind that is he as he has been a subject of very verse about mental detail ration and since the mind is the measure of the man. When the mind is gone the man is for our purposes. He's dead. And then if as body continues to exist and must be supported by society. And if we're going to have huge numbers of these not by their fault or any cause of their own doing a medicated survivors society may well have a loaded good brain. It's all about resources. You.
Mentioned a moment ago that you did not plan to retire. Very likely you said this. Also you suggested that the retirement age should be raised to 85 or 90. This certainly suggests a great project of educating employers as well as the general public. But if this is done they're going to be jobs available for these people. You're in a very unique position as. I'm certain you'll probably recognize that you have a profession but there are so many others that do not have a profession and nothing derogatory here at all that they subsist. On manual labor semi skilled laborers. Yes they are in any doubt about it that life is wonderful. It seems to me that there are so many varied aspects of life you know as one loses a certain amount of physical strength and he develops his own aptitude mean.
Many many jobs and creative outlets for individuals if they look around society can develop leads for the end of it is it's up to the individuals to find the outlets for themselves. There are garden clubs there are literary clubs there are clubs for fashioning modeling and I know of many individuals who have here and they have found jobs that they were thoroughly delighted and. And and a white collar class I know among the professors retired now they are finding new employment for the in the area of adult education. And more lazier people should develop their minds it seems to me. What about the people themselves what do they want. Lot of life. Well Les is a very I just as varied as there are people I
mean but basically the thinking end of it you all want to be wanted. And one of the curses for the majority of older people is that as they grow older if they tend to become isolated and their friends do underway and they don't renew old friendships and make new friendships these people become more and more isolated so that they do want to have friends and they want to be wanted. And in order to be wanted I think they have got to preserve the value as well in themselves give a life meaning I think that people can maintain their interest in the day to day activities of the world of the world. They can polish them. Abilities in various lines they can they can inform themselves and they can read they can study history they can study travel books they do
tremendous a lot today but nobody can do this from the end of it is what they themselves know for that certain number of individuals who are defeated and develop a new awareness of what science has given them. They can dwell vegetate and accelerate the process of decadence and senescence Are you suggesting here that. Old age is more of a fact of the state of mind than it is a state of physical being. Well let's say that ongoing a long flowing rhythm of the human lifespan there is a birth. Childhood adolescence early adult live a middle life and then the mature years which we regard as years. We want to extend them as a period of gradual recession now as the physical
strength of individuals receive the emotional and mellow values can be increased. So the people can attain and preserve. He's about as way into the later years of life. Does that help you. Certainly in the next about a minute and 15 seconds could you tell me if you expect to see any major breakthroughs in the research. Gerontology and geriatrics with a greater awareness and they find research that is going on in the NIH group in Washington and at Duke and at the Lankan Hospital in Philadelphia and Dr. Monroe and his group in Boston and the University of Michigan the University of California. There are significant developments in the research that some great research going on here in Miami under Dr. Boucek good study in college and disorders and I think that there's going to be a rapid increase in our knowledge whether or
not there will be any breakthrough and the control of heart disease and hardening of the arteries cancer and mental disorders I don't know but I do predict that within the next decade or two amazing advances are going to be brought around brought to bear into being and with reference to the needs and then man will tend to live more and more around Centry have healthy happy and useful a meaningful existence before they reach 150 years we can do a whole brand new series. You mentioned arterial sclerosis and things of this nature. You're not separating these from all other diseases. You know the plan I have I think I told you before that there are these four major diseases of that afflict people. If they reach the higher you want to have to do with their circulation those heart arteries are hardening of the arteries high blood pressure stroke so on and the next has cancer. Third is arthritis rheumatism a fourth of the nervous and mental disorders. And these are the ones that I
expect to be receive the greatest concentration and then attention on the part of medical science and the next couple decades. Our thanks to Dr. Edward L. Bortz chief of the medical service of the like in our hospital in Philadelphia and chairman of the National help for for his participation on this program. Why is aging a challenge. Next week you will hear Dr. A.L. Chapman who is assistant surgeon general of the United States and chief of the division of special health services of the United States Public Health Service as he discusses meeting the challenge of aging. On the next program from the series human behavior social and medical research we extend our special thanks to the National Health Council and the National Health Forum for their assistance. Glenn Phillips speaking asking that you join us next week and thanking you for being with us at this time.
This program has been produced by the University of Michigan broadcasting service under a grant in aid from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is the NEA E.B. Radio Network.
The challenge of aging
Why is aging a challenge?
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University of Michigan
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program features an interview with Edward Bortz, MD, Lankenau Hospital, Philadelphia.
Series Description
Part of a WUOM series on human behavior, this series seeks to explore the challenges facing the aged.
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Social Issues
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Host: Hentoff, Nat
Interviewee: Bortz, Edward L. (Edward LeRoy), 1896-1970
Producer: Phillips, Glen
Producing Organization: University of Michigan
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 61-28-1 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:40
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Chicago: “The challenge of aging; Why is aging a challenge?,” 1961-03-29, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 23, 2024,
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APA: The challenge of aging; Why is aging a challenge?. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from