There are plenty of documentaries that look at the issue of aging in our country. Many of them say the same thing. That’s the case here, too, but what saves this documentary is the people it focuses on.
Producer/director Michael Neel looks at a waitress in her seventies, a man who has colon cancer, and a doctor who makes a point of helping elderly people the best he can no matter what their bank accounts look like. There are also interviews with photographers and aging experts who are trying to figure out how the country is going to handle the baby boomers as they get older. (The increase in the number of elderly and the cost of their care within the next eighteen years in Massachusetts alone is terrifying.) You can tell a lot about a culture by how it treats its oldest citizens, and based on what we have in America, we still have a far way to go. Documentaries like “Growing Old” will help us progress into a caring, respectful society, though none of the folks in this film will see that change in their lifetimes.
Films like this are one step in setting things right. My only wish is that it said something new and brought something different to the table instead of the same tired issues (healthcare, rising medical costs, loss of autonomy, and so on), but since these very basic issues have yet to be resolved there may be little reason to examine any new ones. Maybe next time.