Friends for Life

Warren DeWitt was a 76-year-old unmarried gentleman who lived alone. 90-year-old Arden Peters was struggling to care for his Alzheimers-stricken wife. When the two men met over breakfast at a local Wal-Mart one morning, they struck up a friendship that would ultimately ease the burden of old age for both of them.

Friends for Life is an excerpt of “Aging in America: The Years Ahead,” a groundbreaking, many-faceted film by multimedia innovators Ed Kashi and Julie Winokur. In it, they explore the various challenges faced by the fastest-growing segment of the American population. As Arden says, “When you get this old you don’t look forward — you just live day to day.”

Published: November 16, 2005

Producer & Director: Julie Winokur
Editor: Katie Buono
Cinematography: Julie WinokurEd Kashi, Katie Buono, Bob Sacha
Photography: Ed Kashi
Executive Producer: Brian Storm
I watched this photo film for the first time today. I have to say, I know it pulled on some heart strings for some people, but I did feel particularly saddened from the images I witnessed. There are particular photographs that stick in my mind, because they are images that I remember seeing myself.
3:34 reminds me of when I used to visit my Grandmother, and just as we left my Grandfather would kiss her on the forehead showing his affection, despite her not knowing who he was anymore.
“You don’t look forward, you just live from day to day” Arden Peters says in the photo film, but is this how he and his wife should live as she was waiting death?
5:13 reminds me of the last few days before Nana’s death, we’d stand around her bed in silence, holding her hand, thinking to ourselves that it’s time for her to go, peacefully.
What I liked about the Photofilm was the mix between interviews and moving images with the stills. The middle section with the music told the story of her decay excellently.
Although it is not discussed in the film, because it is primarily about the friendship of these two men, but looking at these images, is it really right for people to be able to live like this? Have we taken wanting to live forever too far? Arden Peters aged himself and said caring for her became impossible.
In discussion today the idea came up about how we push the elderly out of our society: we lock them in care homes until they die. Is this because we want to detach ourselves from the trauma of how a disease can change someone?
Please take a look at the photo film and share your views too.

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