One in this documentary series hosted by Judy Woodruff. In this edition, Woodfruff explains how humans' longevity is increasing, and reporter Ofra Bikel travels to Philadelphia to examine the lives of several elderly residents and their families. Though the elderly are experiencing longer, richer lives in recent years, caring for them can be a challenging prospect for their children, a "generation caught in the middle." Ginny, a nurse, explains how the "fairytale" of meeting her husband Fred on a blind date four years previously has changed since she began caring for his mother and her various health issues. They are uncomfortable with the idea of placing her in a nursing home, but Ginny says that their lives are "regimented" because of her needs and that despite her affection for the woman, she resents the amount of time she must spend tending to her. In a support group, women discuss their mixed feelings about caring for their parents, often expressing a sense of guilt, and Marian discusses her 84-year-old mother, Marge, who became suicidal after the sudden death of her husband. Marian too is conflicted about giving up so much of her life to care for Marge, and her daughter Linda advocates placing her in a care facility.

Another woman, Marcy, struggles to remind her "pleasantly confused" mother who she is, and Pat talks about her aunt, saying that she dislikes being in a home and wants to return to her house, despite her confusion and dangerous behavior. Pat explains that she is "right on the borderline" of independence and needing care, adding that the nursing home is quite expensive. Attorney Peter Strauss talks about the "very troubling" process of deciding when to send a loved one to a home, and Pat meets with a social worker to discuss her aunt. Hyman Freed, a former traveling salesman, explains that his wife needs regular assistance after a series of strokes, and that even after selling his home he is struggling to afford her care, eventually turning to his children for financial help. He explains why Medicare is not helping, and a doctor weighs in on why the program is insufficient for those with chronic health issues. Elsewhere, Naomi debates what to do about her husband, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease, discussing the matter with her children and a doctor. They conclude that she "must become poor" in order to qualify for Medicaid, and must give up her husband's pension and live on only $350 a month. She and her children are frustrated at their lack of options, and Naomi admits that the situation is a very lonely one. Woodruff closes the program by explaining how the wealthy can afford private insurance and the poor can receive Medicaid, but those in the middle are often stuck between the two and are unable to procure proper health care for themselves and their relatives, adding that the government's recent decisions and budget cuts are not helping the matter. Commercials deleted.


  • DATE: May 27, 1986 9:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 1:00:00
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: B:16289
  • GENRE: Documentary
  • SERIES RUN: PBS - TV series, 1983-


    • David Fanning … Executive Producer
    • Michael Kirk … Senior Producer
    • Janet McFadden … Producer, Director
    • Ofra Bikel … Producer, Director, Writer
    • Betsey Arledge … Associate Producer
    • Ben Loeterman … Associate Producer
    • Mason Daring … Theme Music by
    • Martin Brody … Theme Music by
    • Judy Woodruff … Host
    • Will Lyman … Narrator