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PBS Caring for Your Parent Special

An examination of the caregiving process through the experiences of real families.

As the population ages, many adult children are grappling with an unprecedented social, economic, and personal revolution as they become the primary caregivers for their aging parents. With family members now responsible for 80 percent of elder care in the United States, nearly every generation is feeling the ripple effects of the aging process.

"Caring for Your Parents" is a moving, two-hour special that draws much-needed attention to this emotional and universal reality. Incorporating a 90-minute documentary and a 30-minute panel discussion. (Watch show online).

The first 90 minutes of "Caring for Your Parents" covers the struggle to keep parents at home, tension among adult siblings, and the complexity of shifting caregiver roles, through an intimate look at five American families. In the end, the documentary—produced, written, and directed by award-winning filmmaker Michael Kirk—contends that successful caregiving requires one primary ingredient: love.

"Aging is the chapter in life that is too often skimmed over. However, it is a critical topic that directly impacts all of us, or will in the very near future," Kirk said. "It's imperative that we turn to our loved ones today so we are prepared for what happens tomorrow."

Over the course of the film, Kirk examines the caregiving process through the experiences of families from varying cultural and economic backgrounds. The documentary exposes struggles to keep parents at home, shows the impact of caregiving on marriages, and reveals the financial repercussions of elder care. Through the stories of these five families, we are also given a glimpse into the often unnoticed emotional and physical effects of caregiving. Other stories explore the decision to stop driving, loss of independence, and tension among caregivers and medical professionals.

Immediately after the 90-minute documentary, medical correspondent Dr. Art Ulene leads "A Conversation About Caring.: This 30-minute panel discussion offers concrete advice and guidance on how to start the conversation—often the most difficult step in caregiving. The panel of experts includes AARP Publications editor-in-chief and co-author of "Caring for Your Parents: The Complete AARP Guide," Hugh Delehanty; Newsweek columnist Jane Bryant Quinn; best-selling author of "Passages," Gail Sheehy; renowned physician Dr. Cora Christian; and leading elder-care expert, Dr. Bill Thomas.

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