The film probes the question of how society will adapt when half the population is eligible for an AARP membership. Its intent is to start a national conversation on how institutions can adapt to a graying society where people are living longer.
"In the Atlanta region and throughout the country, people are routinely living into their 80s. This gift of longevity is something that most of us desire, and yet communities are largely unprepared for this demographic shift," said Becky Kurtz, manager of ARC Aging & Health Resources Division and director of the Atlanta Area Agency on Aging. "As a society, we need to make profound changes in how we invest in our communities."
The Atlanta Regional Commission has invited community leaders, city planners, social workers and others interested in age-related issues to an early screening of the film on Wednesday, June 28.
This will be followed by a panel discussion with Christine Herbes-Sommers, a veteran filmmaker and Vital Pictures producer; Nat Kendall-Taylor, chief executive officer of FrameWorks Institute; and Kurtz. Georgia first lady Sandra Deal will also address participants.
“We want to further that conversation,” said Cheryl T. Mayerik, ARC senior communications coordinator. “Every time we can get people to talk about how we’re living rather than how we’re aging it’s a good conversation.”
The Mableton initiative began in 2009 when the community received funding from the U.S. Administration on Aging as one of 14 national aging in place pilot projects. Working with ARC, plans were made to reshape the typical suburban sprawl of cul-de-sacs and big box stores and create a walkable town center where people could live throughout a lifetime. Planned mixed-use development with shopping, dining and other services would allow older adults to engage socially and not have to depend on transportation.
Film producers honed in on the redesign because five years ago, about the time of the filming, “the Mableton project was one of the hottest projects around. The timing was good,” Mayerik said.
Last year, Lifelong Mableton completed its Mableton Town Square, a community green space across from an elementary school. Changes have been made to a busy Floyd Road, and flexible zoning codes and a Mableton master plan continue to dictate redevelopment in the area, according to county planners.
The documentary also recognizes WellStar Health System. When designing WellStar Paulding Hospital, which opened in 2014, considerations were made for aging patients and an older workforce. Changes in institutions, including workplaces, are needed to account for longer life expectancy, according to the film’s producer Herbes-Sommers.
Filming also took place in Norcross, with interviews on caring for an aging loved one and conversations with students about longevity and its added responsibilities.
By 2030, one out of five residents in the 10-county metro area will be 60 or older. The ARC has a “Live Beyond Expectations Regional Strategic Plan” with goals for transportation, housing, caregiver support, senior centers, and behavior health services.
“ARC is committed to helping people stay in their homes and communities for as long as possible by preparing the Atlanta region to meet the future needs of this demographic,” said Kurtz.
More baby boomers becoming small business owners
“Coming of Age in Aging America”
PBS documentary asks the question: “What will it mean for us all to grow up, live and age in a society where a third of the population is over age 65?”
The film will air nationally on the World Channel:
Friday, June 30 at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. EST
Saturday, July 1 at 2 a.m., 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. EST