Directed by Brad Lichtenstein, Lisa Gildehaus • Documentary • 2005 • 84 minutes
Almost Home rescues from an exile of denial the real stories of aging that lie in the vast middle between the uber-heroic octogenarian marathoner and the feeble geriatric that most Americans fear becoming. A feature length, cinema-verité film shot on location in a continuing care community that boasts a nursing home transforming its medical (think hospital) model of care into a holistic one (think home), Almost Home is a stunningly intimate film that combines the institution’s struggle to shake the nursing home stigma with tender, sometimes difficult, stories of people who live, work and visit there.
The film follows one couple bonded by Alzheimer’s and another divided by Parkinson’s; children torn between caring for their parents and caring for their children; nursing assistants doing unsavory work for poverty wages while juggling precarious lives at home; healthy elders fearful of moving to the dreaded nursing home; and a visionary nursing home director trying to transform a century-old hospital-like institution into a true home. It all adds up to a dramatic and surprising story about aging where that grips you from the start, never flinches from reality — good and bad — and offers hope where you might have thought there was none.