Segments in this Video

Retirement Plans Interrupted by Illness (04:38)


Married for 41 years, Bob and Elaine find their retirement plans interrupted when Bob is diagnosed with colon cancer. Against the odds, Bob survives years longer than his doctors predicted. He credits his survival to his passion for his work.

Aging, Longevity, Health, and Happiness (04:45)

Helen, age 74, works as a waitress where she has worked for 35 years. She credits her good health to her busy schedule and love for her job. Helen and her husband of 51 years share their thoughts and feelings about growing old.

Senior Citizens with Mental Illness (03:31)

The Urban Medical Center provides care for aging citizens with mental illness. A physician with the Center shares his experiences with this group of challenged seniors. Film viewers accompany him on his rounds.

Why Doctors Treat Mentally Ill Senior Citizens (03:27)

In dealing with a particularly difficult senior with mental problems, a physician explains the necessity for providing medical treatment for mentally challenged people. He discusses the challenges and rewards of his work.

Changing the Negative Image of Aging (02:55)

The author/photographer of "Elder Grace," a book about the nobility of aging, shares his thoughts on aging. He wants to dispel the "nightmare" of aging in a culture that dismisses its aging population.

Options for Seniors with Deteriorating Health (03:38)

Diagnosed with metastasizing colon cancer, 74-year-old Bob continues with cancer treatments and putters on his boat, an activity that gives him great satisfaction. His health is deteriorating and he contemplates moving to a nursing home.

Positive Attitude and Aging (03:54)

At age 74, Helen continues to work as a waitress. She shares her family history from the time she went to work at age 7. Helen keeps a positive attitude about life, people, and her work.

Aging: Are Nursing Homes the Answer? (03:14)

A nursing home administrator struggles with piles of required paperwork. A physician visits many aging patients at this older, outmoded home, and complains about the bureaucratic "mess" that keeps him from treating some of his patients.

Aging: Loss of Independence (02:43)

Unable to care for themselves while undergoing difficult treatments such as dialysis, many seniors leave their homes to enter nursing homes. Most want to return home to live they way they want to.

Aging: End of Life in Nursing Home and Hospice Care (02:48)

Alcoholic and homeless, Robert at age 65 is grateful to be in a nursing home that he considers his own "home." Robert is relatively pain free on morphine. Hospice cares for patients with less than six months to live.

Aging: When Is Hospice the Answer? (03:00)

Having decided to refuse life-saving treatment, Ray, with aggressive cancer, contemplates hospice. If he chooses that path, he must give up chemotherapy. Ray does not want to fight death and feel peaceful about "letting go."

Aging: Special Medical Treatment (05:07)

Bob, at age 74, received his cancer treatment through a portocath, a subcutaneous pouch that passes his medications to his cardiovascular system. Health care providers monitor Bob's pain. Bob wishes for a quick death when the time comes.

Old Age: Young at Heart (04:35)

Millie, at age 84, had had "everything taken out of [her] body," and yet feels blessed to be alive. She keeps a positive attitude about the business of living each day. Her son says of aging, "It's in the mind."

Impact of Aging Population on Society (03:38)

In 25 years, the number of elders over 65 will have increased 46%. How will the aging population of baby boomers affect society? The compound effects of so many elders are overwhelming in terms of funding, housing, and medical care.

Assisted Living or Life on the Streets? (05:22)

A 78-year-old man in an assisted living situation is desperate to live on his own. His physician discusses with him the ramifications of his decisions. The doctor questions the social justice of this man living on the street without care.

Is American in Denial About Death? (01:37)

In a society that idealizes youth, are people in denial about the reality of death? Today, most people expect medicine and technology to postpone aging.

Caregiver Depression (03:30)

After 41 years of marriage, Bob's terminal illness takes its toll on Elaine, who often feels depressed about the changes in their life plans.

Colon Cancer Screening: Value of a Colonoscopy (04:08)

Diagnosed with metastasized colon cancer, Bob talks about the sigmoidoscopy he had on his first cancer-screening visit. He asserts that he should have had a colonoscopy instead. The difference between the two procedures is illustrated.

Death: Finite or Circle of Life? (02:11)

An author/photographer delves into the issues of finite death and finite memory. At what point in time are we completely forgotten? Helen, aged 74, sees death as part of the circle of life.

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Growing Old

DVD Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Most people are unwilling to confront aging—even many seniors live in denial of it. Some fear losing their independence and autonomy, while others simply can’t accept the graying of their hair. This program explores the varied landscape of aging in America, presenting the realities—physical, medical, emotional, and economic—of growing old in a youth-obsessed society. Whether they are well off in retirement, financially marginalized, in good health, or terminally ill, the film’s participants provide moving and provocative commentary and raise several challenging questions: What exactly is the healthy way to grow old? Is age a disease to be battled or a beautiful stage of life to be embraced and celebrated? Perhaps most importantly, how can we reverse our society’s neglect of the elderly? (74 minutes)

Length: 74 minutes

Item#: BVL37606

ISBN: 978-1-4213-7945-6

Copyright date: ©2006

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

“Solid, thought-provoking, and frequently poignant.... Raises issues that many—citizens and politicians alike—are often reluctant to face, but also ones that are becoming too pressing to ignore. Recommended.”—Video Librarian


“Films for the Humanities and Sciences enhances its reputation for quality with this documentary addressing the challenges and unacknowledged beauty of growing old in a society that fears aging.... This film would provide an excellent stimulus for a discussion group or class. Recommended.”—Educational Media Reviews Online

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video customers.

Only available in USA and Canada.