As I drive from my home in Naples to my parents’ assisted living apartment in Portland, I am reminded of a quote from Gretchen Rubins’ book entitled The Happiness Project, “The days are long, but the years are short.” My parents are both 94 years old. They are becoming increasingly frail.

A lot seems to happen to many folks between the ages of 85 and 90. Sometimes those changes are precipitated by a major health crisis. However, at other times, the change is imperceptible on a daily basis, but it is happening nonetheless. My mother is confined to a wheelchair most of the time now, and my father is legally blind. My siblings live in Denver and Abu Dhabi.

I am my parents’ regular visitor, lunch mate, shopper, mail reader and responder, power of attorney, advocate, liaison with their pharmacy, Medicare, physicians, and most any other person or entity when what is expected to happen is not what in actuality happens. I will never regret the special relationship that I am privileged to have with them in their last years, but I have to admit that sometimes the days are indeed long.

Because the elderly are living longer even as their level of care increases both in cost and complexity, I have become part of a growing number of adult children caring at some level for aging parents or family members. I also know that doing so can be a lonely and often overwhelming task, whether it is a task that has been willingly assumed or one that was simply a non-negotiable family expectation. I often think that if someone once taught us, when we were new parents, how to care for our children, no one taught us how to care for our elderly and to both efficiently and confidently navigate the tangled and confusing systems that rule their lives.

Because aging is fast becoming one of the major issues of our time, we need a place to begin to encourage deeper and more human discussions about it. Too often, conversations and research studies about aging are dry, analytical and disconnected from the basic humanity of everyone affected. Much more helpful and meaningful would be a venue to share our experiences, learn from each other, and offer one another support.

As a catalyst to that end, the Raymond Village Community Church (U.C.C.) is screening the critically acclaimed film, “Still Mine.” The movie is a “must see” for anyone who is an aging parent, cares for (or has cared for) an aging parent, might care for an aging parent one day, or anticipates being an aging parent at some time. That would include just about all of us.

Starring Genevie?ve Bujold and James Cromwell (Oscar-nominated for this role), “Still Mine” is a 2013 Canadian film based on a true story. At its core, it is an old-age love story about a couple in their late 80s who have been married for over 60 years. However, as their world changes and her health deteriorates, they realize that their time – and their luck – is running out.

Though he is quite vibrant and fiercely independent, she is battling the onset of dementia and general physical frailty. The film reflects on their relationship and its unavoidable dilemmas as well as their individual reactions to her increasing physical limitations and the role of their adult children in attempting to keep them both safe and happy.

At a time when many of us are either beginning to care for aging parents or getting used to our adult children caring more for us than they have in the past, “Still Mine” will touch your heartstrings as well as raise important questions about aging, how we treat our elderly, and how they want to be treated. “Still Mine” offers us an opportunity to open our hearts and minds to the growing reality of aging in the 21st century, but even more to begin to talk about our own experiences and frustrations of being an aging parent or caring for one – as well as tips and tricks for and from both generations.

Runtime of the movie is an hour and 42 minutes. There will be an opportunity to join in a small group facilitated discussion afterwards. We will plan to wrap up no later than 6:30 p.m. Snacks will be served. As pastor of the Raymond Village Community Church U.C.C., I invite everyone interested in issues of aging to come.

The Rev. Nancy Foran is pastor of the Raymond Village Community Church on Main Street in Raymond.


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