Did you watch the Oscars this year? Whether you watched the show or just glanced at the results, hopefully the French film Amour is familiar to you. It was nominated for both Best Foreign Film and Best Picture. Argo took home Best Picture, but another “A” film, Amour, won Best Foreign Film.
I was very excited after I first saw the film a few months ago. Amazing that a film honestly portraying the trials of aging could be seen as exceptional. It didn’t have explosions or rescues (well maybe he did rescue his wife…) or dramatic political concessions. It had hard work, emotional honesty, and acting that felt true to nature.
Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuella Riva, each over 80 years old, had the decency to show how vulnerable one becomes in old age – whether you are the caregiver or the partner with the health condition. The interesting character in the film was their daughter – full of “should’ s” and suggestions, but not willing to interrupt her life to emotionally or physically support her parents.
I’m recommending this film to anyone 40 years old or older. Remember how in high school we had required reading? My fantasy is that this film would be required viewing for all of us Boomers.
What do you think it’s going to be like when old age really sets in? If you’ve had the enriching experience of being close to someone in the last stages of their life, you have felt and smelled and heard the aching, the creaking of the soul as it lets go of this physical world. Sometimes the letting go is a lengthy process.
I’m a nurse practitioner who has worked in the area of gerontology for many decades and I think Amour is an outstanding film. On the national media scene, we are starting to hear discussions somewhat related to the topic of aging and end of life. But last year’s hype about “death panels” didn’t really advance the discussion.
As the Boomers age, we know our generation will greatly impact the health care system and the national budget. And it is also honest to have real discussions about end-of-life care. It is a fantasy that many of us still hold, that there will always be “one more thing” that can be done to save us. Even with the best of care, none of us will get out of here alive.
In Amour, Anne, the wife, made her husband promise not to send her back to the hospital. Is that a conversation some of you have had with your loved ones? When is “enough is enough” – if Anne had had that conversation with her daughter, would her daughter have been more supportive and understanding?
Every person’s last journey is unique but it is very worthwhile to have these types of conversations with your loved ones while you still can – whether you are the child looking to care for parents, or you yourself are the aging parent. Don’t leave it up to “fate” to force those wrenching decisions on you and your family – have the decency to talk to those you love about what your/their last wishes are.