December 20th, 2011 at 12:11 pm
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5 movies that offer lessons about aging, caregiving

by Dorian Martin

When I was caring for my mom, who suffered from both chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and Alzheimer’s disease, I found that I didn’t have a lot of energy for meeting new people or trying new things. Instead, my energy was focused on helping Mom and maintaining my own sanity.

What I did do, though, was watch a lot of movies. At first, my Netflix queue was full of foreign movies, which allowed me to mentally escape to other places and times. But eventually, I started screening films about aging and caregiving; surprisingly, many of these films provided some timely lessons.

5 movies about caregiving

So in the holiday spirit, I want to offer five movie recommendations that may make you think differently about elder care:

  1. Away from Her. This movie lets you see inside a couple’s relationship as the wife (played by Julie Christie, who was nominated for an Oscar) battles Alzheimer’s disease.
  2. Beginners. This critically acclaimed movie is the story about the relationship between a son (played by Ewan McGregor) and his aging father (played by Christopher Plummer), who decides to admit that he’s gay at the age of 75. This movie made me think about the choices we make during our lives and the desire by everyone–no matter what their age–to live life to the fullest until they die.
  3. The Savages. Laura Linney (who was nominated for an Oscar) and Philip Seymour Hoffman play siblings who are trying to handle caregiving issues while maintaining their respective lives. They also have to face the emotional scars of an abusive childhood as they care for their father, who has dementia.
  4. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring. This Korean movie is a beautiful look at the cycle of life. The film, which is set at a tiny Buddhist monastery, is divided into five seasons with each one representing a different stage of life.
  5. Up! Hopefully you’ve seen this wonderful Pixar movie, but if you haven’t, it’s definitely worth watching. In fact, I rented this Oscar-winning film a second time so that Dad and I could watch it one New Year’s Eve. What I love about this movie is that it’s elderly star, Carl, learns to re-embrace life after his wife dies.

These movies are entertaining, but they also have important messages for caregivers. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll definitely seeing aging differently!

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