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Amazing Elderly Film Characters, Part 1

It’s a sad truth that elderly characters are given short shrift in film and television.  The “key demographics” tend to skew young, and for whatever reason, producers assume that they don’t enjoy watching older characters on the screen.  “Golden aged” characters either don’t appear at all, or, when they do, they’re portrayed as full of every elderly person stereotype out there.  The irony, though, is that on the rare occasion Hollywood does it right, and creates an elderly character that is realistic and respectful, they’re almost always one of, if not THE most memorable characters from their films or shows!

So let’s take a look at some of these rare best-of-the-best elderly film characters.  This is by no means a comprehensive list, just a few of our favorites, and we’ll share more soon.  If you haven’t seen these films yet, you should absolutely check them out.  Let’s start with a trio of male characters portrayed by iconic actors…

Emmett “Doc” Brown – “Back to the Future” Trilogy

NewfaceChristopher Lloyd wasn’t elderly when he first played the eccentric, brilliant and lovable “Doc” Brown.  He first played the hyperactive inventor when he was in his mid-40s.  But the time traveling nature of the story meant that Lloyd got to play the character both in his early 40s and in his early 70s.  The 70s version got a lot more screen-time over the course of the Trilogy, and got to save the space-time continuum, rescue a damsel-in-distress (and later woo her), help his young friend Marty make his family better, and even departed the story at the end of the Trilogy to go off on further adventures with some elegant and wise parting words for the teenaged Marty.  He was also hilarious, full of life and energy, and utterly brilliant (if a bit insane)!   All-in-all, a wonderful character, and a wonderful depiction of an (over)active senior kicking butt across time!

Lucius Fox – “The Dark Knight” Trilogy

Lucius-Fox-batman-begins-11593854-843-361Morgan Freeman has basically made a career out of playing respectful, awe-inspiring characters, including God Himself!  But out of all of his star turns, his quiet, powerful dignity comes through most obviously when he isn’t the focus of the story, like with Lucius Fox, CEO of Wayne Enterprises in “Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises.”  In a Trilogy of Batman films, it’s Lucius (and another wise, older mentor, Alfred Pennyworth) that give the superheroic Batman his grounding.  Without Lucius and Alfred, Batman, A, wouldn’t exist, B, would have died countless times, and C, would have gone snapped without support.  But if Alfred helps Bruce Wayne keep his heart, Lucius helps him keep his mind, reminding him of his limits, giving him a moral framework, and generally being the most loyal and trustworthy person in the entire story.  He’s also another brilliant inventor, butt-kicking businessman, and looks great in a bow tie.

Warren Schmidt – “About Schmidt”

aboutschmidt1Jack Nicholson is best known for playing powerful, all-consuming characters who chew scenery like giraffes (in the best possible way), but it was his quiet, somber turn as Warren Schmidt that most stuck with us.  “About Schmidt” is very much a story about roads not taken, and opportunities lost, something that people deal with with increasing frequency as they age.  Schmidt is, even in his personality, utterly unremarkable and unmemorable, but we learn about the man inside the quiet shell over the course of the story, as he confronts losing his wife, learning harsh truths about his career and marriage, and effectively loses his daughter to a man he is mortified she is marrying.  But we also learn about how even the most seemingly unremarkable life is important and can make a difference.  If you haven’t seen this film, bring tissues for the ending.

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Winter Tips for the Elderly


With another big freeze gripping the northeastern United States, now seems like a good time to pass along this set of tips for elderly people who are dealing with living in the extreme cold right now.  While our area remains a comfortable temperature, many of us have at least one elderly or infirm family member or friend living up in the deep freeze.  These tips, originally written by Andrea Lee on Care.com, are for them!

Avoid Slipping on Ice
Icy, snowy roads and sidewalks make it easy to slip and fall. “Unfortunately, falls are a common occurrence for senior citizens, especially during the winter months,” says Dr. Stanley Wang, a physician at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, California. Often these falls cause major injuries such as hip and wrist fractures, head trauma and major lacerations.

While younger people often recover relatively quickly from such injuries, older adults face complications, which Dr. Wang says are a leading cause of death from injury in men and women over the age of 65.

Make sure to wear shoes with good traction and non-skid soles, and stay inside until the roads are clear. Replace a worn cane tip to making walking easier. Take off shoes as soon as you return indoors because often snow and ice attach to the soles and, once melted, can lead to slippery conditions inside.

Dress for Warmth
Cold temperatures can lead to frostbite and hypothermia — a condition where the body temperature dips too low. According to the CDC, more than half of hypothermia-related deaths were of people over the age of 65.

So don’t let indoor temperatures go too low and dress in layers. Going outside? Wear warm socks, a heavy coat, a warm hat, gloves and a scarf. In very cold temperatures, cover all exposed skin. Use a scarf to cover your mouth and protect your lungs.

Your body temperature should never dip below 95 degrees — if it does get medical assistance immediately.

Fight Wintertime Depression
Because it can be difficult and dangerous to get around, many seniors have less contact with others during cold months. This can breed feelings of loneliness and isolation.

To help avoid these issues, family members can check in on seniors as often as possible; even a short, daily phone call can make a big difference. Seniors can also arrange a check-in system with neighbors and friends, where each person looks in on one or two others daily.

Check the Car
Driving during the winter can be hazardous for anyone. But it is especially dangerous for older people, who may not drive as often anymore or whose reflexes may not be as quick as they once were. Get your car serviced before wintertime hits — or ask a family member to bring it to a garage for you. Checking things like the oil, tires, battery and wipers can make a big difference on winter roads. Also make sure your AAA membership is up-to-date in case of emergencies.

Prepare for Power Outages
Winter storms can lead to power outages. Make sure you have easy access to flashlights and a battery-powered radio in case the power goes out. Stockpile warm blankets. Longer power outages can spoil the food in your refrigerator and freezer so keep a supply of non-perishable foods that can be eaten cold on hand. If the power goes out, wear several layers of clothing, including a hat. Move around a lot to raise your body temperature.

Eat a Varied Diet
Because people spend more time indoors and may eat a smaller variety of foods, nutritional deficits — especially Vitamin D deficiency — can be a problem. Nicole Morrissey, a registered dietitian in southwest Michigan, recommends consuming foods that are fortified with Vitamin D, such as milk, grains and seafood options like tuna and salmon.

Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Using a fireplace, gas heater or lanterns can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Ensure your safety by checking the batteries on your carbon monoxide detector and buying an updated one if you need to.

Read the entire original article HERE.

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Mapping Aging (Again)

Not too long ago, we poured over some really interesting maps about aging trends in the United States.  Those maps showed county-by-county trends, and essentially brought us to the conclusion that we are slowly aging as a country, especially in Florida, and less-so in the Mountain West.  But how do we stack up against the rest of the world?  The answer says a lot about where we’re going as a country.

Here’s the median age in each state as of 2010.

0YJXFYeJust like before, the trends are obvious.  Older, more developed Northeastern states are more aged, the rugged, relatively unpopulated Mountain West is younger, and New England, Pennsylvania and Florida are the oldest areas in the country.  Let’s parse this down further, and look at a big county-by-county map.


It’s very interesting to see it this way.  The county maps from last time showed trends into the future, this map shows the age of each county right now.  It’s very unexpected that Maine is the overall oldest state by median age, though!  But less surprising is the presence of the country’s oldest county, Sumter County, in Florida.

Now, let’s look at trends for the entire world, with the under 30 percentage in each country in 2005, and the projection of the same in 2025…

world_age_structure_2005_2025It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see where the shift is occurring there.  The more “developed” countries are getting older, while the less “developed” countries are getting younger as their populations explode.  The reasons are pretty easy to guess: easy access to birth control in the “Developed World” alongside far greater longevity and more comprehensive healthcare services in those countries letting more people live longer.  The areas of the world that are healthiest are understandably becoming the oldest!

Let’s take a look at two specific examples to make this more clear…


This is the average age in each Australian Land District.  Australia is a country very similar to the United States, with a colonial heritage derived from the British Empire that started on a vast, untamed continent, with an even more untamed West and interior.  The main differences are that the country is younger, and that the continent in question is a bit more inhospitable than North America was (to put it mildly).  The demographics reflect that, with a pattern similar to the United States’, but more extreme.  The giant Great Victoria and Gibson Deserts have extremely young populations, just like the American Mountain West and Alaska do, as does the relatively unpopulated Northern Territory.  The older, major coastal cities and their sprawls, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney, Canberra, and Melbourne, make a line along the country’s southeast coast that fills the area with an older population, just like the American Northeast Corridor.  Additional splotches of red surround the other large cities, Adelaide and Perth.  You can see the trends developing that in a few more decades will make Australia’s age map will look a lot like ours does now as the continent fills-in with more people,.  So this is where we were around 50 years ago.  Where will we be 50 years from now?

Let’s look to an unlikely place for the future…

Naselja-median_starostiWeren’t expecting that, were you?  Croatia is a prime example of where the US is going in regards to aging, as it’s a very developed European country, but not as extreme an example as countries in Western and Northern Europe, thanks mostly to the relatively recent wars in the region.  As you can see, even the youngest areas bottom out at an average of around 35 years, with huge swaths of the country averaging in the mid-50s in age.  This is where we are going, as our health improves, and our lives get longer, and our birth rate slows.  Essentially, while we still think of ourselves in terms of our cultural and political competitors, like Russia, China and Brazil, we’re actually slowly turning into the United Kingdom and Japan in terms of demographics.  It will be extremely interesting to see how that affects our character as a country moving forward.

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50 Over 50


With a new year comes the realization that the world is another year in what we used to think of as “the future,” and that our childhoods and youth are further and further behind.  But that isn’t a bad thing!  We believe very strongly here at Just Like Family that aging isn’t automatically a bad thing, and, in fact, can bring wonderful benefits with it, like the memories, experience and wisdom that come with the times younger people never lived through.  Which is why we think this list of 50 things people over 50 understand that no one else does is the perfect way to kick off 2014 here on the blog.  You might not think all of these things are “good,” but all of them are absolutely interesting, and it’s incredibly important to acknowledge them, because we can’t know where we’re going in a brand new year if we don’t know where we’ve been!  For example…

“When mail would come twice a day.”

“Burma Shave signs.”

“On a lighter note, the ladies always dressed up to go shopping, dresses or skirts/blouses/sweaters, heels with seamed nylons, hats/gloves. Men wore ties and jackets.”

“Air raid drills in NJ, during the 1950s — having to get under your desk in school or behind a sofa at home with all the shades and curtains pulled, no lights on. Then you’d hear an airplane fly overhead and be terrified it was a bomber.”

“Tin foil on rabbit ears and TV remotes that were connected to the TV with a cord.”

Feel the nostalgia with the rest of the list over HERE on The Huffington Post.