Up, Up and “A Way” to Care for Elderly


upFor caregivers passionate about spreading the good news about caring for and building relationships with the elderly, run, don't walk to your nearby theater to see the new Disney-Pixar movie "Up."

Forget that it's a "kid's" movie.  It's an inspiring, life-giving tale about the power of the human spirit; love between two people who set out on a life adventure together, and the power to reinvent and find life again after tremendous grief.

I went to the movie recently with my mother, a recent widow, and my two daughters, thinking it would be a great way to spend a cold rainy afternoon and see what some are billing as the "new Nemo." At first, it was painful to glance over and my mother (trying to not let her see me glancing) and realize that her loss is so new and that this story could be touching a very delicate nerve. At the same time to again not let them see me glancing and seeing the tears running down the cheeks of my two daughters who earlier this year, lost two grandfathers in one week.  And, to try myself not to let any of them see me crying.

But, despite the tears, we all found ourselves laughing, and deeply moved about the powerful story that unfolds in this movie. It is the story about 78-year-old balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen and his wife Ellie. It starts in their childhood where they share a joint love of exploring and become a united team. Adventurers at heart, the couple had a dream, a dream that was shortened by Ellie's passing. Carl becomes a cranky old man and the film centers his relationship with an overeager Camp Scout.  They fly to South America in a floating house suspended from helium balloons.

But it is the story along the way that is so compelling and heartwarming and has lessons for all about the power of caring for each other at any age, but especially about the living that the elderly still can embrace.  And, about how we all need to look in our lives for who needs us. There is always someone we can care for and in doing so, find new life and love ourselves.

All four of us - my mom in her 80's, myself in mid-life, and my daughters, a teen and a young adult, cried and laughed our way through.  Run, don't walk to your theater to see "Up."

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---Mary Beth Sammons