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September 14, 1962 - Image 17

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1962-09-14

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FRIDAY, SEPTEMPER 14,1962

TIDE MICHIGAN DAILY

FACF AV"tT'?t V

FRJ.DAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 1962 THE MICHIGAN DAILY

r *.AL n J dv A.i'

GERIATRIC STUDY:
Institute Views Problems of Mentally Ill

,:ji..7.{U:. UV4."t a .yin .: ".' 4 } 1}: ".{ .... .......

By GERALD STORCH
The Institute for Human Ad-
justment is currently carrying out
research on two important prob-
lems -of the aged: pre-retirement
counseling and rehabilitation of1
elderly persons who are mentally
ill.
Prof. Wilma Donohue, chairman,
of the institute's gerontology divi-
sion, is coordinating both projects,
which stress random sampling
methods and control groups now
used in most social research.
The pre-retirement program, in
the words of its director, Woodrow
W. Hunter of the gerontology di-
vision, seeks "to develop and test
materials and methods, and to de-
termine the effects of participation
of hourly-rated workers in a
group-discussion type pre-retire-
ment education program."
Informative Materials
To work toward this goal, Hunt-
er prepared four kinds of informa-
tive materials: a series of eight
five-minute films on retirement
planning old-age leisure activity;
still pictures depicting socio-psy-
chological aspects of retirement;
10 short stories based on case his-
tories of retirees; and a series of
seven booklets which provide var-
ious types of relevant information.
These materials were developed
in order to stimulate discussion
and decision-making for workers
about to retire.
Series of Meetings
Beginning next month, a series
of meetings will be held with auto-
motive workers of more than 60
years of age.
At that time the institute re-
searchers will attempt to discover
the effects of the materials upon
workers in assorted occupations
and levels of education, and the
usefulness of the materials as a
guide for the program leaders.
Although most efforts to orient
near-retirees are organized on a
group-meeting basis by business,
industrial and labor organizations,
the research is hampered by the
refusal of the major automobile
companies in Detroit to provide
pertinent data on older workers,
including figures on their years of
service, income and education,
Hunter writes.
Most of the researchers' assist-
ance has come from the automo-
bile labor unions instead.
Meager Knowledge
Present knowledge in the field of
pre-retirement education is "ex-
ceedingly meager," he points out;
in fact, his study is the first one
in the field to use a control group.
Therefore, the research is ex-
pected to shed some much-needed

light on the social and economic
disruption workers of retirement
age face, and Hunter hopes that
his report will lay the groundwork
for a proven and coherent program
to help these individuals make the
critical adjustment.
The other project of the Univer-
sity institute is being conducted'at
Ypsilanti State Hospital.
Senility Changes
Here, a "normalized community"
ward of geriatric mental patients
has been established to determine

portant role in this type of ill-i
ness, and that the psychiatric
cases were not hopeless.
In spite of this advance, older
mental patients often do not re-
ceive the best of care. They have
to compete with younger patients,
and "fail to receive a proportion-
ate share of active treatment and
rehabilitation services," Prof. Don-
ohue continues.
Great Anxiety
And "fear of senility and pro-
gressive deterioration creates great
anxiety and helps to precipitate
mental breakdown" among the
aged.
The current research is based
on an "activity theory," which
holds that adjustment in old age
is promoted by continuing activ-
ity.
However, as there is a distinct
paucity of research on this hy-

pothesis, and also on the entire
subject of the relationship of so-
cial and psychological factors to
geriatric mental illness, the insti-
tute researchers established the
special ward.
Provide Work Shops
In it, sheltered workshops for
craft training, homemaking, and
other light labor activities are pro-
vided. Group social, recreational
and leisure-time activities have
also been set up.
Records are kept on these pa-
tients' interest and extent of in-
volvement, and their therapeutic
progress will be correlated with
those persons having "normal"
treatment beginning next Febru-
ary.
Both the pre-retirement and
geriatric mental illness projects
are supported by federal as well
as University funds.

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PROF. WILMA T. DONAHUE
... old age, illness
whether hospitals can arrest the
rate of senility changes in such
persons and whether they can ever
be rehabilitated and discharged.
In the special ward, treatment
includes intensive psycho-social
therapy consisting of work proj-
ects and group social experiences.
Progress of the patients in this
section will be compared with that
made by patients under the usual
"custodial type of care."
Some Hope
It has only been in recent years
that aged mental patients were
thought to, have some hope for
treatment and rehabilitation, Prof.
Donohue stated in her research
proposal.
Previously, it had been assumed
that such persons suffered from
irreversible organic changes in the
brain. But research within the last
decade hasshown that social and
psychological factors play an im-

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