Posted on: Jul 10, 2017
The Atlanta Regional Commission recently held a screening of the PBS documentary “Coming of Age in Aging America,” which explores what it means to live in a rapidly aging society.
The issue has particular resonance in metro Atlanta, which has one of the nation’s fastest-growing populations of older adults. The film focuses on the city of Norcross, which has been working on a variety of ways to better accommodate its older residents, as part of its Lifelong Communities initiative.
“We are all aging all the time, and it is important that we understand the challenges and opportunities that we can build on to create a society that evolves with us,” Becky Kurtz, manager of ARC’s Aging and Independence Group, told the audience of 200, which included community and industry leaders, older adults volunteers and local elected officials.
Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal, an advocate on aging issues, introduced the film.
“Coming of Age in Aging America” directly confronts the myriad challenges that an aging society presents. For example, the film points out that many older adults live in the suburbs, which were built for young families and designed around the automobile. But most people will outlive their ability to drive by 7-10 years.
The documentary also suggests that we may need to fundamentally rethink the idea of work and retirement. After all, Social Security was set up in 1935, when the average life expectancy in the U.S. was just 62. Now, we can expect to live about 15 years past retirement age.
Christine Herbes-Sommers, the film’s producer and director, spoke on a panel following the screening. She said one of her goals in making the film was to help reshape how our society thinks about the stages of life as a continuous spectrum instead of distinct stages. That may mean working much longer, taking occasional breaks for education, raise kids or care for an elderly loved one.
“Sometimes you have to imagine what it would really be like if we lived a different life course,” she said.
“Coming of Age in Aging America” aired on PBS earlier this month and is streaming online through Aug. 1 at nextavenue.org.
For more information including viewing times, visit theagingamericaproject.com.