WHY SURVIVE?: Being Old in America by
Kirkus Star

WHY SURVIVE?: Being Old in America

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Not a further exploitation of old age -- Dr. Butler's eloquent, exhaustive and formidably informed book is a work of genuine consequence. He's a physician-psychiatrist-gerontologist who also teaches and is Consultant to the U.S. Senate Committee on Aging. Thus the arsenal of studies and statistics which does not detract from its larger purpose. The simple fact is that we cannot take care of our old people and will be increasingly less able to do so. Butler discusses growing old and poor in tandem (the average retired couple have a budget of less than $5,000, or did in 1971); benefits -- even most pensions -- are minimal; there is the deprivation of work in a country where there's a great need for services; housing, even if seven out of ten live with relatives, is at a premium; care is discriminatory, limited or nonexistent. On to the still harder questions of medical needs; illness -- emotional and otherwise; the nursing homes or ""halfway houses somewhere between society and the cemetery""; victimization whether by outright criminal abuse or fraud. Death and dying comprise the final coda. At some length Butler, who has served as a public policy activist, reviews the politics of old age and what is needed (""positive change in cultural sensibility. . . allocation of national resources in this direction. . .the creation of effective political representation. . .""). A mandatory book which covers all aspects of the disenfranchisement, disinterest and disparagement (would that it were not just the repugnant Golden Age-Senior Citizen eupuisms) this sector of humanity receives to make their last years meaningless since ""neglect is the treatment of choice.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1975
Publisher: Harper & Row