Living Old – broken down

powerful and intimate journey into the uncharted territory of Americans
living longer than ever — and what it means for them, their loved ones
and our society."

The online Introduction for the "Living Old" presentation poses the concerns & challenges:

the first time in American history, "the old old" — those over 85 —
are now the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population. Medical
advances have enabled an unprecedented number of Americans to live
longer, healthier lives. But 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. In "Living Old," FRONTLINE investigates this
national crisis and explores the new realities of aging in America.

"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 [an] 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

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.

Through the PBS "Living Old" webpages, you can:

  • Watch the full program as an online video on your computer, through QuickTime or Windows Media Player software (and a high-speed internet connection)
  • Read the stories of persons & families featured in the documentary, through links in the presentation's Synopsis
  • Hear interviews with participants appearing in the documentary, including:
  • Read reliable reference materials,
    on topics of caregiving, end-of-life decisions, long-term care planning
    & financing, Alzheimer's disease treatment, elder abuse, and pain
  • Ponder faith & spiritual issues,
    including: Bereavement, personal purpose, physical versus mental
    declines, "life review", nature of life, existence & power of God,
    death, community connections, & the role of religion

The television broadcast of "Living Old" was noted nationally in press reviews identified. Typical of the reactions was that of Rob Owen, in his article dated November 21, 2006, found in the Pittsburgh Gazette:

program doesn't offer a cure-all solution, because there isn't one. But
it does raise an increasingly important issue, experts share their
advice and viewers are left to ponder what living to a ripe old age will
mean to them and to their families."

PBS & WGBH have produced a phenomenal effort on a timely topic.


After publishing this post, I read the following exchange on the Comments section of the "Living Old" website; and now I am reassured that my wish will come true:

Viewer from NY:
I do hope you make the web site resource material available for a long
time to come. There's a lot to read and digest. Thank God for public
television. You're doing a terrific job. FRONTLINE has always had
superior programming. It never lets the viewers down.

FRONTLINE's producers respond: This
web site's content – plus the full program in high quality video – will
remain available for viewing and reading for years right here on
FRONTLINE's site, as part of the public service mission of public

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