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Films Show Growing Older can be a Beautiful Thing

Hedda Bolgar, a subject in Laurie Schur's film, is 102 and continues to be a practicing psychoanalyst. Photo courtesy of The Beauty of Aging website.

There are already many documentaries that examine the pitfalls of aging, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

However social worker and documentary film director and producer Laurie Schur decided to do a film that looked at the positive side of growing old.

“I was trying to talk to people who had good attitudes and were doing well in life as they aged even if they had challenges,” said Schur, 67, MSW, who has been a psychotherapist for more than 30 years.

Schur’s work resulted in “Greedy for Life,” a 35-minute film about Lavada Campbell, 88, and Shirley Windward, 93.

Campbell was still active in church and dance class into her 80s and bragged about maintaining a healthy sex life with her husband. Windward survived a coma and continued to maintain a relationship with her husband, who is also ailing, and enjoy hobbies such as ceramics.

Both women are engaged in creative outlets and have a network of relationships with people of all ages.

Laurie Schur

Schur, who lives in Santa Monica, Calif., is now trying to raise money to complete an hour-long film called “The  Beauty of Aging.”  That films includes the stories of Campbell, Windward and other women aged 80 and older who continue to live life to its fullest.

The oldest living woman in the project, Hedda Bolgar, is aged 102 and is still a practicing psychoanalyst.

Schur has done speaking engagements using parts of the films to illustrate examples of aging well. She has presented at the Los Angeles Jewish Home for Aging, The American Society on Aging Conference, the American Association of Service Coordinators conferences, Kaiser Permanente and women’s salons.

Genetics probably contribute to only 25 to 30 percent of a person’s lifespan, Schur said. Other factors that help people live longer are their lifestyle and how engaged they are in daily activities. She said “Greedy for Life” and the excerpts from the still unfinished “The Beauty of Aging” help educate people that growing older doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.

“People say they feel less frightened about getting old,” Schur says about the reaction she gets after audiences see her films.

To learn more about Schur’s films “Greedy for Life” and the “The Beauty of Aging, click here. And to learn more about how social workers help older people and their families live more fulfilling lives visit the National Association of Social Workers’ “Help Starts Here” Seniors and Aging website by clicking here.

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