It’s no secret why the people taking care of our elders are taking no chances when it comes to safety. Husband and wife Terry and Cherie Teichmeier run Lake Parke Senior Living in Camdenton, Missouri.
“You know, we’ve been spraying our mail since Day One,” said Terry. “There’s just things that we do that are considered over-the-top, probably by our residents, they probably look at us and go, ‘Oh my gosh, you guys are nuts!’ But we do it because we love them and they know it.”
Of course, while the residents are OK on the outside, you have to wonder how our most vulnerable population is doing on the inside.
Jan Clark, one of the residents, told correspondent Serena Altschul, “You know, they want to isolate us, and we’re already isolated in our heads. So, you know it just was, I thought, a sad deal.”
Halfway across the country, 28-year-old Ellie Sachs and 31-year-old Matt Starr, two millennials isolated way off in New York City, were coming up with an idea: “What if we started a movie club with quarantined senior citizens?” said Sachs. “And then we came up with the name: The Long Distance Movie Club.”
And after some cold calls to various homes around the country, they reached Lake Parke.
Teichmeier said, “I got to be honest, you know, you get calls like that in this line of work, and you go, ‘OK, what do they really want? Why is somebody from downtown New York calling us in this little town in Missouri?'”
But since the quarantine began, Sachs, Starr and the seniors have been getting together virtually every two weeks for this newfound ritual. Watching films of a bygone era, like ‘From Here to Eternity,” and then talking about them seems to have opened windows to personal memories.
During a Zoom call with Sachs and Starr, Jean said, “I was so disappointed when the price went up to 25 cents to get into the movies.”
Sachs asked, “How do you feel now when you see it’s, like, $18?”
“Oh my gosh!” Jean laughed.
Sachs told Altschul, “We’re watching old movies, we’re hearing about people’s pasts. And in a way, you can sort of find answers and find some comfort in the way that we’ve dealt with things in the past.”
Sachs and Starr have also been making new friends at Priya Living, in Santa Clara, California, a retirement home where the majority of seniors are Southeast Asians.
Learning about classic Bollywood films, along with Indian culture, is another bi-weekly event. “This really has become our quarantine highlight,” said Starr.
If the story of these two millennials using film to connect with the elderly sounds familiar, “Sunday Morning” met them a couple years ago when they re-made Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall” with seniors Harry Miller and Shula Chernick from a New York nursing home.
And the bonds forged between young and old by making “My Annie Hall” inspired this new project, almost like a good sequel.
Starr said, “This has been another reminder, just like from the ‘My Annie Hall’ experience, that there are not a lot of opportunities for young people and old people to have meaningful experiences.”
Altschul asked senior Jan Clark, “Has it brought you all closer together?”
“I think so,” she replied. “It’s an outing. And it’s something different. Takes our mind off of anything else going on with us personally.”
“So in a way, the movie club has been a good medicine for all of this?”
“It’s been a great socialization, yes,” Clark replied.
It’ll be a ways away before seniors will get to hug and kiss their children and grandchildren; for now, seeing loved ones through a screen will have to do.
And just maybe, the silver screen can provide some comfort along the way, for all ages.
Terry Teichmeier said, “There definitely is an excitement when Matt and Ellie’s names are mentioned and it’s like, ‘Oh, that’s today!'”
“So, you’re going to keep it going?’ Altschul asked.
Banner picture: CBS NEWS