Several years ago I received a grant from The Quality of Life Committee of Alexian Brothers of Missouri to produce a program on Aging in Isolation. My collaborator, Joan Johnson, introduced me to the critical importance of social contact in late life and together we sought to tell this important story. The short documentary is titled “Aging In The Shadows.“
Casting was a difficult challenge. We wanted the program to have emotional depth and feature individuals impacted by living alone. We sought seniors from diverse socio-economic and racial backgrounds while considering the various “causes” of isolation such as physical, circumstantial, family related or personal. Lastly we evaluated the ability to bring connections into each life to make a difference. In the end, “Aging In The Shadows” featured three individuals whose life challenges were significant.
Our “casting” included Charlie, an 87 year old man who recently lost his wife. Charlie lived in a nursing home surrounded by people but his hearing loss was accelerating, damaging his ability to participate in conversations with his daughters, family and friends. He sat by himself in a room full of people.
William had a son who “stole his money” and abandoned him. His resentment was passing but he still had issues of trust.
Donna earned a doctorate degree from Washington University in St. Louis but was without a husband or children. She was living alone in an apartment and I soon discovered—drinking every day.
Aging In The Shadows features the insights and experiences of faith leaders, healthcare professionals, social service agencies, gerontologists and caregivers who are becoming increasingly concerned about the growing issue of isolation in our aging population. It’s a program that demonstrates how community comes together to break down attitudinal barriers about the elderly. In the end we hope viewers will discover ways to enhance and enrich the lives of our older adults…and one another.
The DVD can be ordered free of charge from:
Alexian Brothers of Missouri
c/o Alexian brothers Sherbrooke Village
4005 Ripa Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63125