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Older Rural Americans

Older Rural Americans

EDITED BY E. Grant Youmans
Copyright Date: 1967
Pages: 332
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  • Book Info
    Older Rural Americans
    Book Description:

    Most social studies of older people in the United States have focused upon problems and conditions encountered in urban centers. InOlder Rural Americanssixteen social scientists representing various regions examine in depth the circumstances of older people in rural America.

    The authors first consider older people in the contexts of work, the family, and the community, discussing their social outlook, their place in these contexts, and the profound changes they face as they move away from an active part in these areas of life. Later chapters analyze the distribution of the rural aged population and their economic, housing, and health status. Of particular interest are essays treating the place and condition of older rural people in three major subcultures of the United States -- the American Indian, the Spanish-speaking people of the Southwest, and African Americans. Finally, the authors trace the development of local, state, and federal programs designed to assist the aged.

    The authors argue that an understanding of rural life some sixty years ago is of the utmost importance, for it is the values of that time that have largely formed the attitudes and outlooks of today's rural aged.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6501-1
    Subjects: Sociology, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Foreword
    (pp. v-vi)
    John H. Southern and William A. Seay

    Private and public organizations in the United States have initiated a wide variety of programs for older people. The success of such programs depends, in large part, upon the accumulation of information about the behavior and living conditions of older persons in different social environments. Social gerontological studies have documented some of the conditions and circumstances of life among older persons living in metropolitan centers of United States, but relatively little is published about older rural people. In this volume, sixteen social scientists from different regions of the nation have collaborated in presenting information about older people living in open...

  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
    E. Grant Youmans
  4. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-5)

    In recent decades public attention has been directed to the social, economic, and health conditions of older people in American society. Public awareness of these conditions has been augmented by the increasing number and proportion of the aged in the population and by the growing research literature on human aging. In 1850, about 3 percent of the United States population was aged 65 and over. One hundred years later it was 8 percent. In 1960 it was 9 percent, a proportion which included about 11 million aged men and women living in urban centers and almost 5 million living in...

  6. Perspectives on the Rural Aged
    (pp. 6-21)

    In analyzing the rural elderly, three sets of factors must be kept in mind: (a) factors associated with aging in American society, (b) characteristics of life today in small towns and the open country, and (c) characteristics of life in small towns and the open country some sixty years ago when the present generation of older people were in their formative years. The reason for distinguishing the third set of factors from the other two is that rural life, which was much different sixty years ago in the United States than it is today, has had a profound effect on...

  7. Work Roles among the Rural Aged
    (pp. 22-43)

    No treatise on the rural aged would be complete without a discussion of their work roles and their retirement from these roles. Work, which is expected of the adult male in our society, serves to fix his position in the social order, to maintain him in a meaningful reference group, to regulate much of his life activity, and it is a source of many satisfactions and emotional experiences. The central position of work in American society is emphasized by Miller and Form:

    The impact of work routines is found in almost every aspect of living and even in the world...

  8. The Middle-Aged and Older Rural Person and His Family
    (pp. 44-74)

    Probably no institution has greater potential for lifelong influence upon human behavior than the family. The family is defined as “a socially sanctioned grouping of persons united by kinship, marriage, or adoption ties, who generally share a common habitat and interact according to well-defined social roles created by a common culture.”¹ The family is of central importance to all other social institutions. It is the first institution by which the child is socialized and it provides a setting to satisfy the physical, social, and psychological needs of its members. The three-generation extended family plays a vital role in meeting the...

  9. Community Roles and Activities of Older Rural Persons
    (pp. 75-96)

    The older person whose children have left home and who has retired from work often finds himself confronted with free time and no socially acceptable way to use it. He may have learned to consider his retirement income as a kind of deferred fringe benefit, but he has never quite accepted the notion that free time is also a benefit earned during the working years. Instead, he often regards his free time as a burden, one of the penalties imposed upon older people.

    Two values widely held in American society reinforce the rejection of most leisure-time pursuits for the elderly....

  10. Disengagement among Older Rural and Urban Men
    (pp. 97-116)

    One of the current and more systematic explanations of human aging as social-psychological phenomena is found in “disengagement theory.” As formulated by Cumming and Henry¹ and modified by Neugarten² and Williams and Wirths,³ this theory suggests that human aging involves an inevitable withdrawal from interactions with others and that this withdrawal is associated with important changes in the goals, attitudes, orientations, and personality of the aging person. This theory conceives the aging person as being at the center of a network of social relationships and, as he ages, his social life space tends to constrict and he experiences a general...

  11. Distribution of the Rural Aged Population
    (pp. 117-143)

    Any consideration of the older population living in the rural areas of the United States leads to an examination of the extent to which the age structure of this population merely reflects that of the population as a whole and of the extent to which its characteristics arise from its rural condition. In the following discussion, therefore, some attention is given to trends in the age structure in the United States as a whole and of the rural population as reported in census statistics.

    The twentieth century has been marked both in the United States and in the countries of...

  12. Economic Status of the Rural Aged
    (pp. 144-168)

    In recent years public attention has been focused on various economically disadvantaged groups. The Hood of statistics rising from the poverty programs have shown that certain characteristics such as occupation, age, sex, education, regional location, and color are related to income level. Attempts have been made to isolate the influence of single factors on economic status. In analyzing the extent to which low incomes are associated with these characteristics, one author concluded that such debilitating socioeconomic factors are not necessarily at the core of poverty: Aging is not a cause of poverty, nor is being non-white a cause of poverty,...

  13. Housing of the Rural Aged
    (pp. 169-194)

    In considering the housing of older rural people it is important to bear in mind that the rural aged population is not homogeneous. There are major differences in age, sex, race, health, education, marital status, socioeconomic status, occupation, type of household, type of housing, type of residential area, and region of the country. As a result there are no typical rural senior citizens. They include the Navajo, the Negro, the Appalachian subsistence farmer, the Wyoming cowboy, the Alabama plantation patriarch, the Wisconsin dairy farmer, the coal miner in rural Pennsylvania, the up-state New York merchant villager, the industrial factory worker...

  14. Health Status of the Rural Aged
    (pp. 195-220)

    The growth of medical knowledge, the diffusion of medical technology, and the expansion and specialization of health care in the United States have had a profound impact on the health of the nation. Between 1900 and 1960 the crude death rate dramatically declined, almost all major communicable diseases sharply decreased, and life expectancy at birth increased from 47.3 to 64.7 years.¹

    Despite progress in health care, many segments of the population lack adequate health services. Among these groups are older persons, who by their nature are subject to physical in capacities. Research has shown that the limited financial resources of...

  15. The Older American Indian
    (pp. 221-238)

    Any discussion of contemporary North American Indians must first cope with the problems of definition and uniqueness. Indians make up only 0.25 percent of the population of this country, but their importance is not so much in their numbers as in their unique relationship with the federal government. In this sense they are difficult to compare with other ethnic groups, most of whom migrated to this country with the intention of making an adjustment to American society. In contrast, the various Indian tribes have been cultural islands engulfed by and resistant to the Hood of white American settlement. It is...

  16. The Older Rural Spanish-Speaking People of the Southwest
    (pp. 239-261)

    The Spanish-speaking people in the United States are second only to the American Indians in the length of time they have occupied American soil. Moving north from the high plateaus of Mexico around the first part of the seventeenth century, they occupied the central valley of what is now New Mexico almost two decades before the first permanent English colonists landed in New England. Until about 1850 few descendants of these pioneer settlers had left the area. Today they are concentrated in the five southwestern states of Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. Unlike descendants of many European groups,...

  17. The Older Rural Negro
    (pp. 262-280)

    Very little information is available about aged Negroes in American society, and even less is known about the social category which is the focus of this chapter—older rural Negroes. The National Urban League recently published a report calledDouble Jeopardy: A Profile of the Older Negro in America Today,¹ which suggests that the status of the aged Negro is different from the aged white primarily because he is Negro. Another report entitledHealth Care and the Negro Population² examines the health status of the aged Negro, analyzing this phenomenon within the framework of subcultural differences. Of relevance also is...

  18. Programs for the Rural Elderly
    (pp. 281-304)

    Most programs designed to help older persons—whether federal, state, or local—have either assumed the absence of significant rural-urban differences or have chosen to ignore such differences. Among federal programs some exceptions to this generalization are the exclusion of farmers and farm workers from social security benefits for almost 20 years after the enactment of the Social Security Act in 1935, long after most other nonprofessional groups had been included. Another was the home-improvement grant program designed specifically to improve rural housing. Although there has been no attempt to exclude the rural elderly from federal or state programs, a...

  19. Contributors
    (pp. 305-306)
  20. Name Index
    (pp. 307-310)
  21. Subject Index
    (pp. 311-321)