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National Recreation Association magazine "Recreation"

Hospital Capsules by Beatrice H. Hill

1956, Volume 49, Page 140

If it is possible to judge the success of an operation by the number of staff attending, then the record should read “prognosis excellent” for the Second Hospital Recreation Institute for the Aged, Ill and Handicapped, co-sponsored by the National Recreation Association and New York University, January 18-20. Three hundred and ten persons, from nine Northeastern states attended.

The opening morning general session stressed the problems of the aged person and the contribution that recreation can make to the ill and handicapped senior citizen. Geneva Mathiasen, executive secretary of the National Committee on the Aging, National Social Welfare Assembly, identified the five greatest hazards which must be overcome by the aged: (1) reduced income; (2) likelihood of being forced to make drastic changes at a time when the person is least able to adjust; (3) reduced physical vigor and the threat of chronic illness; (4) increased unallocated time, while the circle of contemporary friends and of relatives inevitably grows smaller; and (5) loss of prestige and feeling of usefulness without a compensating change in values.

Dr. Harold Meyer, University of North Carolina, emphasized, “The sum of the facts proves overwhelmingly that we can live longer and that the span of life may be even further lengthened. While this is a thrilling achievement, it is accompanied by a big question: How will we live these years?”

That afternoon, Dr. Louis Linn, psychiatrist at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City, gave a wonderful talk on why we should not accept the term “senile” without actually knowing that this is the case from a medical standpoint--in other words, an actual regression of the brain. He said, “By and large, the behavior of old people is an exaggeration of life-long patterns.” He emphatically pointed out, “Recreation is as much a necessity for mental health as vitamins are for physical health. . . . Emotional survival is not possible without the one, just as physical survival is not without the other.”

The afternoon closed with a panel session on special recreation programs for the aged, ill and handicapped outlining creative, educational, group and intra-group activities.

Thursday was devoted to special workshops concerning problems related to special disabilities, as well as to recreation problems in particular institutions.

On Friday, Dr. Howard A. Rusk, director of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, NYU-Bellvue Medical Center, New York City, outlined a dynamic program for the aged. One of many things he brought to our attention was that today there are more than 14,500,000 Americans past the age of sixty-five. You, in this new and dedicated branch of the recreation profession have a new and growing area to serve--our ever-growing aged population. Recreation is a fundamental therapy for this group. Programming for the aged varies little from the program for the others except in tempo and the common sense application of sound recreation practice by the person working with them.”

That afternoon we had two extremely active panels concerned with meeting community recreation obligations for the non-institutionalized ill or handicapped senior citizen. Sarah Goodheim, of the Division of Recreation, Welfare Department, Kansas City, pointed out the tremendous responsibility of the community to the chronically ill or handicapped person who is not institutionalized: the handicapped person is unable to leave his home, and the one able to come to a center. She outlined a very impressive plan for servicing both. Kansas is now in the process of putting this plan into action, and I’m sure Miss Goodheim will be delighted to hear from any of those interested.

The last panel emphasized training and utilizing volunteers to supplement professional workers. Assemblyman Bernard Austin of the New York State Joint Legislative Committee on the Aged challenged us with the necessity of developing recreation interests in our middle-aged Americans, helping them to properly understand the vital role recreation must play in what can only be described as a leisure-time revolution going on in our time. “Unfortunately, today we have so many compulsive workers who arrive at retirement age with no recreation skills; who develop what we term ‘retirement shock.’ Those of us who are concerned with our aged must turn to our middle-aged in an effort to prevent the mistakes made in the past from happening in the future.”

The complete proceedings of the institute will be available soon; write for them.

c: NRPA all rights reserved

 

 

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