M: Today, we’ve Professor McKay on our morning talk show. Good morning, Professor McKay.
W: Good morning.
M: I’ve heard that you and your team have just completed a report on old age.
W: That’s right.
M: Could you tell me what your report is about?
W: Well, the report basically looks into the various beliefs that people hold about old age and tries to verify them.
M: And what do you think your report can achieve?
W: We hope that it will somehow help people to change their feelings about old age. The problem is that far too many of us believe that most old people are poor, lonely, and unhappy. As a result, we tend to find old people, as a group, unattractive. And this is very dangerous for our society.
M: But surely we cannot escape the fact that many old people are lonely and many are sick.
W: No, we can’t. But we must also remember that the proportion of such people is no greater among the 60-70 age group than among the 50-60 age group.
M: In other words, there is no more mental illness, for example, among the 60s-70s than among the 50s-60s.
W: Right! And why should there be? Why should we expect people to suddenly change when they reach their 60th or 60th birthday any more than they did when they reached their 21st?
M: But one would expect there to be more physical illness among old people, surely.
W: Why should one expect this? After all, those people who reach the age of 65 or 70 are the strong among us. The weak die mainly in childhood, then in their 40s and 50s. Furthermore, by the time people reach 60 or 65, they have learned how to look after themselves. They keep warm, sleep regular hours, and eat sensibly. Of course, some old people do suffer from physical illnesses, but these do not suddenly develop on their 65th birthday. People who are healthy in middle age tend to be healthy in old age, just as one would expect.
M: Do you find that young people these days are not as concerned about their parents as their parents were about theirs?
W: We have found nothing that suggests that family feeling is either dying or dead. There do not appear to be large numbers of young people who are trying, for example, to have their dear old mother locked up in a mental hospital.
M: Don’t many more parents live apart from their married children then used to be the case?
W: True, but this is because many more young families can afford to own their own homes these days than ever before. In other words, parents and their married children usually live in separate households because they prefer it that way, not because the children refuse to have mum and dad living with them.
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