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By Graham D. Rowles

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Although the lack of equivalence is obvious, it is also true that the developmental phénoménologies of early and late life are compatible in a way that the phénoménologies of middle and late life are not. The statements I have made are not merely pessimistic but frightening, and few gerontologists are eager to explore the final confrontation with biological decline and death. I was led to confront these issues through my son s friendship with Leland, for when Gidon grew old enough to realize that his best friend was 7 5 years older than himself, he also realized he would lose his friend to death.

Stone, L. B. Nursing homes and public policy. The Gerontologist, 1969, 9, 214-218. Β instock, R , & Shanas, E. ). The handbook of aging and the social sciences. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1976. Β irren, J. Ε. ). Handbook of aging and the individual Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1 9 5 9 . Brotman, Η. B. Every ninth American. Developments in aging. Washington, D. C : U. S. Senate, 1 9 8 0 . 28 Roger Lohmann and Nancy Lohmann Burgess, E. W. ). Aging in western societies. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960.

For this population, the Reagan-Stockman approach holds little promise other than through a new voluntarism which seeks to create programs and services funded by private donations and contributions. In the past, such ventures have been limited by the well-know difficulties of voluntary fund raising. Whether such difficulties could be overcome in a new era of private action remains to be seen. The social policy milieu in which Americans grow old today is a very volatile environment indeed. In many respects, it may be the least predictable, most risky aspect of the current milieu of aging.

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