protective service projects on the urban elderly, commented succinctly: "If an
old person wants to stay out of an institution, he/she should stay away from
friends and family."
50 The selective social interaction of many of the inner-city
elderly could thus represent a continued drive to do just that -- to remain at liberty, however circumscribed.
We have written more about the hazards of the urban elderly woman than
about her pleasures, more about her problems than her solutions, more about
her suffering than her survival. Yet, such women are resilient, even heroic. Powerless and denigrated though they may be, frightened by crime and neighborhood change though they are, they cope; they fight back. Their lives offer us a
contradictory picture of loneliness and freedom, of abandonment and community. We hope that we have given those who want to better those lives, through
public and private action, the materials to see more clearly the troubles they
might remedy, and the strengths they might nurture.
For relevant interdisciplinary comment about attitudes toward aging, see Florine Livson
, "Cultural Faces of Eve: Images of Women" (paper presented at the annual meeting of
the American Psychological Association, San Francisco, August 1977); Leo Simmons, The Role of the Aged in Primitive Society ( New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1945); Tom Sheehan, "Senior Esteem as a Factor of Socio-Economic Complexity," Gerontologist 16 ( 1976): 433-40; David Guttman, "The Cross-cultural Perspective: Notes Toward a
Comparative Psychology of Aging," in The Handbook of the Psychology of Aging, ed.
J. E. Birren
K. W. Schaie ( New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., 1977); Barbara Turner, "The Self-Concepts of Older Women" (paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, San Francisco, 1977); Robert LeVine, "Witchcraft
and Sorcery in a Gusii Community," in Witchcraft and Sorcery in East Africa, ed.
E. Winter ( London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1963); M. Fortes, The Web of Clanship Among the Tallensi ( London: Oxford University Press, 1962); E. Westermarck, Ritual
and Belief in Morocco ( London: Kegan Paul, 1926); Susan Sontag, "The Double Standard
of Aging", Saturday Review 23 ( September 23, 1972): 29; Valerie I. Fennel, "Age Relations
and Rapid Change in a Small Town," Gerontologist 17 ( October 1977): 405-11.
Administration on Aging. Special Tabulation. "Women 60+ and 65+ Years Old by
Metropolitan-Non-Metropolitan Residence, Race, and Spanish Origin", photocopied
( Washington, D.C.: Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, March 1978).
Donald O. Cowgill, "Residential Segregation by Age in American Metropolitan
Areas", Journal of Gerontology 33 ( May 1978): 446-53.
Irving Rosow, "And Then We Were Old", Trans-Action/Society 2 ( January-February 1965): 20-26, and "Old Age: One Moral Dilemma of an Affluent Society," Gerontologist 2 ( December 1962): 182-91.
Helena Znaniecki Lopata, Widowhood in an American City ( Cambridge, Mass.: Schenckman Publishing Co., 1973).