A Letter From The Publisher: Aug. 3, 1970

ASKED if he minded growing older, the venerable and tireless Maurice Chevalier once remarked, "Not when I consider the alternative." But for thousands of American elderly, the alternative almost seems preferable. Condemned by society to a life "of decreasing usefulness, they wait out their days in idleness and, in many cases, poverty.

To examine the plight of the nation's elderly, TIME focuses its cover story this week on the nearly forgotten tenth of the U.S. population, the 20 million Americans who have passed the arbitrary milestone of 65 into the limbo of old age. The result is a long, hard and...

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