The issues and uncertainties of aging are the focus of a National Council of Churches documentary produced by Third Way Media and slated for broadcast on the ABC television network beginning October 17.

Embracing Aging: Families Facing Change addresses the universal topic through the eyes of extended families from across the United States.

“I would like to be able to embrace my later years but I’m still scared because I don’t know what’s going to happen,” says Randi Gedaliah of New York City, one of the family members who appears in the documentary. Gedaliah’s father, Harry Davis, 86, is one of the elders featured in the program.

“It’s time for we baby boomers to grow ‘the rest of the way’ up,” asserts Dr. Ira Byock in the program. Dr. Byock is professor at Dartmouth Medical School in New Hampshire and director of palliative care for the medical center there.

Residents of ElderSpirit, a co-housing community for age 55 and up in rural Abingdon, Va., tell viewers why they wanted to explore alternatives to typical retirement communities. The community’s founder, Dene Peterson, says one of her passions is to change the way elders are treated in American society.

The program probes phases of aging, retirement, housing options, care issues and options, relationships, aging in different cultures, and the role of faith and the church.

Families appearing in the documentary are:

  • The Durkee family, Tunbridge, Vt.: care-giving for a mother with Alzheimer’s and a father with chronic leukemia.
  • The Guengerich family, Harrisonburg, VA: facing a series of downsizing moves while physical needs increase.
  • Shirley Phillips, and daughter, Los Angeles.: fighting a medical system which had given up on the mother at the age of 74.
  • The Davis family, New York: adjusting to a new social world in assisted living after the death of wife/mother.
  • The Concepcion family, California and Virginia: managing long-distance care of father with brother and sister on opposite coasts.

The program also includes Jennie Chin Hansen, president of AARP; Licia Berry-Berard, geriatric social worker and Dr. Lisa Furmanski geriatrician, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center; Stella Henry, author of The ElderCare Handbook and founder of Vista del Sol assisted living facility; Arthur Webb, CEO of Village Care of New York; Lynn Miller, author and stewardship counselor for Mennonite Mutual Aid; and volunteers with Service Opportunities for Older Persons.

The program probes phases of aging, retirement, housing options, care issues and options, relationships, aging in different cultures, and the role of faith and the church.

For information on where the program airs in your area, check the Interfaith Broadcast website. ABC stations are authorized to televise the documentary any time between Oct. 17 and Dec. 12.

The program is also available at Third Way Media's website on DVD for $24.95 with study guide and bonus content.

An accompanying website, Embracing Aging adds additional resources and links on the subject of aging.  Audio programs on the subject are available at the Shaping Families website.  See Past Programs in October for Aging: Care Options and Aging: Housing Choices.