The Psychological Aspects of Ageing and Senility. Margaret Davies Eysenck. Pp. 171–181.
Social Aspects of Ageing and Senility. H. Goldschmidt. Pp. 182–194.
People with foresight in other countries as well as our own plead for measures to meet the swelling problem of the fate of the aged. These British papers parallel our experience and conviction that it is tragic to prolong physical life when mental life is ended.
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In a detailed statistical study Lewis records the steady increase of the proportion of old people in the community and their consequent increasing proportion in mental hospitals. Within the next thirty years the bulk of patients admitted to mental hospitals will likely be the elderly. Eysenck reports the conclusions of the recent psychological literature on the intellectual abilities and emotional life of the ageing. It seems agreed that from a peak period in the early twenties, mental, perceptual and motor abilities decline with a concomitant withdrawal of libido from the outer world. She offers several criticisms of test and questionnaire methods and recommends large-scale longitudinal follow-up studies.
The impact of social factors in normal and abnormal ageing processes is considered by Goldschmidt. Integration with other human beings, occupational activities, the rôle of diet and disease, the effects of financial security, nationality, etc. are contrasted in old people living in a mental hospital, in the community, on an estate and at a pensioners club. Of all the contributing factors to mental health, that of social integration is the most significant. The author endorses a nonresidential advisory center for the ageing, much like a child guidance center. This center's success will depend on ancillary measures taken by the community such as adequate housing, medical care and facilities for the elderly to contribute to a socially useful end.
A discussion of the three papers follows. Several of the discussants stress inferentially that we shall pay through hardships to many, for our apathy towards the accelerating distress of old people.
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(1949). Journal of Mental Science. XCII, 1946. Psychoanal. Q., 18:269-270