Beyond Sixty-Five: The Dilemma of Old Age in America's Past by Carole Haber

By Carole Haber

This publication investigates the altering roles and perceptions of previous age in nineteenth-century the United States. It exhibits how the industrial and social transformation of the kingdom affected the situation of the elderly, because it altered ideals approximately their talents and desires. targeting the information of medical professionals, charity employees, and social planners, it lines the method through which their view of senescence used to be integrated into geriatric medication, the improvement of the nation's first old-age houses and crucial retirement plans. With the adoption of those programmes, previous age got here to be noticeable as a frequent social challenge. via the early 20th century, it had develop into characterised as a time of dependence and illness - an angle which keeps to steer the way in which that glossy american citizens understand and deal with the aged.

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Disease, desertion, and misfortune - rather than self-indulgence - had been the sources of their destitute state. Beginning in the 1830s, however, the notion of homogeneous, stable class of worthy indigents was challenged - with results that would be critical to perceptions of the aged poor. In time, the sources of the elderly's poverty, as well as the acceptable measures for their relief, would be distinguished from all others. The effects of urban and industrial growth on the old would be discovered and labeled hopeless.

14 Other professions of declining status also employed a large proportion of the old. 16 Again, it was in the city that the elderly faced the greatest decline in occupational rank. For individuals entering old age in America's urban areas, job opportunities seemed to diminish rapidly. 17 This situation occurred in Canada as well. "18 As a group, Hamilton's old people were the most likely of any age category to experience a decline in occupational position. Such individuals had few modern vocational skills.

By retiring from their principal calling, they were acknowledging an end to their primary role in society. As a result, they were drawing a sharp line between the final stage and the rest of the life cycle. 19 Beyond Sixty-Five Retirement, however, was only one means of marking the start of superannuation. Other events symbolized an individual's passage into this stage as well. For an elderly woman, in particular, the death of her husband might represent a crucial, if involuntary, role exit. As an aged widow, she often entered a new set of relationships with both her family and her community.

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