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 Im 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