The Not-So-Sunny Side of Getting Old

In her documentary Kings Point, director Sari Gilman tackles the taboo subject of aging in America

by Ruth Morganto
retirement community image
Kings Point
Photograph: Courtesy of HBO

More: The characters in the film seem disconnected, even though they have lived together for years. Why do you think that is?
S.G.: I don’t know. I think there are a few possibilities. One is that, when you are surrounded by people who are getting sick and dying, it’s very scary to make connections because you don’t know how long they will be around. Another reason is that knowing people who are getting sick and dying reminds you of your own mortality, so you don’t want to get too close to that.  That’s just conjecture on my part.

More: Some grandparents move in order to be closer to their grandchildren.  Is the pattern changing whereby people leave their family to enjoy a retirement in the sun?
S.G.:I don’t know for sure. The people that I followed in the film were the first people to outlive what they thought their life expectancy to be.  When I asked them, “How did you imagine your life, when you were my age?”  they across the board said, “I never thought I would live this long.”  Now that people know they may live that long, they may be making different choices.  

More: Have you kept in touch with the residents of Kings Point?
S.G.: Yeah. I just got a call from one of them and I have to call her back. Bea and Gert are the only ones still around. But they’ve seen the film. I’ve been down to visit them—they are very excited.

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