Aging In Community - San Francisco Bay Area Message Board › New Event: On KQED: Frontline: "Living Old" looks at people 85 and over
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Announcing a new event for Aging In Community - SF Bay Area!
What: On KQED: Frontline: "Living Old" looks at people 85 and over
When: Tuesday, November 21, 10:00 PM
Where: On our TV! Rather than try an in-person meeting this late, let's all just Tivo or tape it and meet another time to discuss it.
"Living Old" is an earnest---and often sobering---look at the lives of people 85 and older, ?the fastest-growing segment of the population,? notes narrator Will Lyman.
(60 minutes) With 35 million elderly people in America, "the old, old" -- those over 85 -- are now considered the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population. While medical advances have enabled an unprecedented number of Americans to live longer and healthier lives, this new longevity has also had unintended consequences. For millions of Americans, living longer also means serious chronic illness and a protracted physical decline that can require an immense amount of care, often for years and sometimes even decades. Yet just as the need for care is rising, the number of available caregivers is dwindling. With families more dispersed than ever and an overburdened healthcare system, many experts fear that we are on the threshold of a major crisis in care.
AS AMERICANS LIVE LONGER THAN EVER, AND CAREGIVERS DWINDLE, FRONTLINE EXPLORES WHAT IT MEANS TO GROW OLD
Tuesday, November 21, 2006, at 9 P.M. ET on PBS
For the first time in American history, "the old old" -- those over 85 -- are now the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population. While medical advances have enabled an unprecedented number of Americans to live longer, healthier lives, for millions of elderly, living longer can also mean a debilitating physical decline that often requires an immense amount of care. And just as more care is needed, fewer caregivers are available to provide it. FRONTLINE producers Miri Navasky and Karen O'Connor investigate this national crisis and explore the new realities of aging in America in Living Old, airing Tuesday, November 21, 2006.
"We're on the threshold of the first-ever mass geriatric society," says Dr. Leon Kass, chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics from 2002 to 2005. "The bad news is that the price that many people are going to be paying for extra decade of healthy longevity is up to another decade of anything but healthy longevity. ... We've not yet begun to face up to what this means in human terms."
Vast numbers of our elderly are living lives that neither they nor their families ever prepared for or imagined. Through the perspectives of the elderly, their families and the doctors and nurses who care for them, Living Old explores the modern realities of aging in both urban and rural America. The hour-long documentary takes viewers on an intimate and powerful journey that raises new and troubling concerns about what it really means to grow old.
For millions of Americans, living longer means coping with multiple chronic illnesses, increasing frailty and prolonged periods of dementia, which may last for years and sometimes even decades. Only one in 20 people over the age of 85 is still fully mobile, and roughly half will develop some form of dementia. "Everything started to go at 82 years," says Rose Chanes, now 96 and in assisted living. "I don't hear, I don't see. ... You've got to be crazy to call it a blessing to live like this. ... I call it a curse."
For the elderly and their families, the emotional toll is often severe. "With my mother, it's been a slow process, but in the last few months, ... things have escalated," says Mary Ann DiBerardino, whose parents, married for 68 years and both in their 90s, now share a room in a nursing home. Her father has advanced Parkinson's, and her mother has Alzheimer's. "It's difficult some days when I'm not sure if doesn't eat because perhaps she's forgotten how to use her utensils," says DiBerardino. "Or does she not know how to swallow? I keep trying to fix things, and even though my head says I can't, your heart -- your heart wants to fix everything. Even with my nursing background and caring for elderly and terminally ill, nothing has prepared me for taking on the role of caring for my mother."
In an attempt to lessen the burden on families and to ensure that their wishes are fulfilled, many elderly write advance directives, such as living wills, powers of attorney and do-not-resuscitate orders. "But the fact of the matter is, it's really impossible to describe all of those circumstances that one is going to face," says Dr. Kass. " it's simply not true that we can know in advance how we ourselves will feel about many of these things once we find ourselves not 45 and fit, but 75 and viewing life with a different lens."
[read the whole press release at the PBS Living Old website)
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