By Graham D. Rowles
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Additional resources for Aging and Milieu. Environmental Perspectives on Growing Old
But when I went over to join Leland, that was not what I told him. '' Yes, he has, and, if I am ever to learn this for myself, it will be easier for me to learn from Leland, as Gidon has, than to struggle 36 Nancy Datan with death alone, imprisoned by the age-graded structure of contemporary Western society. I think I have earned by now the title of most pessimistic gerontologist, and I would like to give credit where it is due. Leland was a pessimistic gerontologist before I ever met him—or, if you prefer, a poet of the final season of the life cycle.
The larger task I attempted was to overcome the mile dividing Leland and me, to bridge the natural chasm between a productive, middle-aged professor of psychology and a retired professor of zoology. To put it another way, I tried to make work out of love, so as to legitimate the daily round of visits, and to make us, for a little while at least, neighbors again. At this second task I failed. W e know one another too well, Leland and I; distance is no deterrent to our love, merely to our routines.
He had found that age-heterogeneous groups potentiated the therapeutic interactions that occured more slowly in age-homogeneous groups. For years I thought this was a brilliant piece of research for the wrong reasons; I thought Butler had found a way to overcome the age segregation of American society. More recently I have concluded that what he accomplished was even more remarkable, though less original: He rediscovered the natural strengths of the extended family. Having been led to his concern for the old through his love for the grandfather who raised him (Butler, 1975), Robert Butler would appreciate the fact that my son made a very similar discovery.
Aging and Milieu. Environmental Perspectives on Growing Old by Graham D. Rowles