Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Elsa y Fred: Spanish-language Original

Released July 28, 2005
I've long had Elsa y Fred (2005) in my Netflix queue (the Spanish-language film). But with the recent release of an English-language adaptation, I decided to finally get around to viewing the original.

Manuel Alexandre plays the reliable, quiet Fred opposite China Zorrilla's impulsive Elsa.  They meet when recently widowed Fred moves into the same apartment as Elsa.

Elsa lives in the moment, pursuing pleasures and contorting the truth to suit her needs.  Fred lives in constant fear that something bad might happen, so he is very risk averse. Elsa is constantly challenging him to loosen up, seize the day and enjoy life--starting with enjoying her company.

While their relationship provides regular conflict, they also have to manage outside forces.  Elsa and Fred both have adult children who are trying to manage their lives--for good or for ill.

From time to time, they have to remind their children that they are adults who deserve privacy, respect and independence. His daughter and her son have a hard time complying.

A significant tension, however, exists between their contrasting ways of tackling life.  Using Freud's theory of the id, ego and superego, Fred is a symbol for the adult energy of the superego.  Elsa symbolizes the childlike energy of the id.

A similar allegory exists in the Czech-language film Autumn Spring (2001) where the husband is the carefree one and his wife serves as his overly responsible foil.

This above trailer lacks English subtitles, but the DVD I rented had subtitles. 

I enjoyed the film very much, even when wincing a few time over Elsa's antics.  It's fun, insightful and sweet.


Films about Aging A-L
Movies about Love and Sex for People 50 Plus

Monday, November 24, 2014

Being Mortal: Book Review

Published 7 October 2014.
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End was published in October of this year, and it's been getting very high praise.

Surgeon, teacher, speaker and author Atul Gawande fashions a book about the difficulties many people face in their last months of life.

Advances in medicine have given people a myriad of options in how to address serious illness, particularly cancer.

When should patients work with medical professionals to intervene and when should patients refrain?

In other words, should people aggressively pursue every avenue for extending life despite the low probability of success and without considering the hardship that chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery might create?

Other questions posed by the book: When should patients pursue less aggressive treatment options? And when should they switch from life-saving care to comfort care?

It's extremely difficult to make these choices. Even Guwande's own father, also a doctor (a urologist) struggles to decide how to respond to a serious illness that starts with tingling in his left arm.

Guwande and his parents stumbled through the process of choosing the kind and timing of various medical interventions. His father journey as doctor-turned-patient made me very aware of how agonizing the questions of managing the last years of one's life can be.   Even the experts don't have clarity on this issue of late-life health care.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Grateful for Aging

An aging flower still has beauty. Photo by Theen Moy.
When I decided to study gerontology five years ago, my intent was to combat aging as a formidable foe.  After 20-30 hours a week focused on the topic of aging, I'm often grateful to be getting older.

This post is part of a Midlife Boulevard blog hop. The thumbnails below will disappear after a while, so I'm saving a handful for future reference. Enjoy! 

This Thanksgiving season gives me occasion to explain what I mean.  Let me list the blessings of aging:

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Grace in Aging: Book Review

Published 5 August 2014.
I'm going to review this book before I fully digest it. Let me explain.

In The Grace in Aging: Awaken as You Grow Older, Kathleen Dowling Singh presents a series of meditations that invites people in midlife and late life to become mindful about the aging process.

Singh has a rich background as a transpersonal psychologist, hospice worker, and frequent lecturer on the spiritual aspects of dying.  She grew up Catholic and then left the faith to study Buddhism. She now resists that label--or any other. "I guess at this point I don't see a need for a label."

Her writing draws from wisdom literature from a variety of traditions.  Her book requires slow reading with frequent pauses for meditation, journaling and transformation of thoughts, attitudes and behaviors.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Alz Awareness Month

Photo by Mitch.
A sponsored post on behalf of the Banner Alzheimer's Institute.

Modern medicine has enjoyed sweet success in preventing and treating a number of diseases.

People are living longer because there have been great strides in addressing heart disease, diabetes and even some cancers.

However, there is still no cure for Alzheimer's Disease  (AD), which is currently the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.

November is Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month.  Consider wearing a purple ribbon!

It's a good time to focus on the prevalence of the disease and to learn about some ongoing work to prevent and cure AD in the near future.