27 AUGUST 1948, Page 28

Shorter Notices

" A FIELD that is almost untilled " is Dr. Sheldon's description of the phenomena of old age, and he contrasts the enormous amount that is known about the early stages of life with the paucity of our knowledge of the later stages. However, there have been a number of studies of the old in the last few years, and this report on 477 old men and women at Wolverhampton by the Director of Medicine of the Royal Hospital bears out previous conclusions. The feeling of being needed in the world, Dr. Sheldon found, was enormously beneficial to health and even spurred the ailing to amazing activity. Hence old women who can continue to work in the home are better off than old men and live longer, and old people in their own homes are more intelligent than those in institutions. The health of the old in Wolver- hampton was found to be surprisingly good, the two greatest needs being proper spectacles and chiropody. Loneliness is one of the chief troubles in age; family is of fundamental importance. Even with poor health tere is an abounding will to live Dr. Sheldon found little hypochondria among these old people outside institutions. Setting out his conclusions in a report of more than two hundred pages he advocates further study of old age, and stresses—as all those who have studied the problems of elderly people stress—the need for more accommodation for those over sixty. This is a business-like piece of evidence on a subject which is beginning to receive attention —far too late.