or retired, he has the same needs for physical and emotional security--for adequate food, clothing, and shelter, for affection, appreciation, understanding, and the realization that he is needed and wanted in the world. When this fact is kept in mind, the mental health difficulties of the older worker are seen to arise not so much from whether or not he is employed as from his urgent impulse to satisfy these needs. The difficulties then may be seen to be associated with retirement but actually adventitious to it. When these needs are satisfied, retirement is not only acceptable but may be the source of much positive enjoyment.
Quite aside from the relationship which the working environment bears to health and disease in the worker, there is a profound effect of that environment upon him which arises from the fact that it is so largely mechanized. In the past the mechanization process has appeared to be a handicap to aging workers because it has put a premium on speed combined with alertness and precision which seemed to penalize the worker who was growing old. The need to make allowances for the slowing up in reaction time with age has not seemed compatible with the operation of mechanical processes whose essential nature forbade the individualization of any factor, including that of time.
Many mechanized processes are essentially repetitive and neither require nor permit the addition of the operator's judgment or skill --qualities which are the assets of age. On the other hand, the operation of some kinds of modern machines requires the ability to interpret complicated data and the capacity to make prompt decisions based on those data, thus placing a heavy responsibility on the operator--responsibility of a type which the older worker may find it hard to assume or carry. Displacement of the older worker has thus seemed to be a natural and inevitable concomitant of the mechanization of industry.
There are, nevertheless, ways in which mechanization may be seen to be a help to the aging. The replacement of muscle power by machine power opens the way for the employment of older people