‘Silver Hair on the Silver Screen: Narratives of Ageing in Film’


The global population of older adults is increasing, including the MENA region. There is an urgent need to increase the workforce of geriatricians in developing countries. Geriatrics is not a popular specialty amongst medical students or junior doctors due to limited education and training opportunities, and a small number of champions of Geriatrics nurturing students’ interests in this discipline. Published literature suggests that cultivating positive attitudes towards ageing, early engagement with older people and their social networks could redress this challenge. The use of ‘Arts and Humanities’, and ‘Film’ in particular can be creatively employed to introduce the lived experience of older generations to students. 

In this lecture, I will describe an 8-weeks film-based educational intervention aimed at 11 first year medical students at Brighton and Sussex Medical (BSMS) to enable them: to appreciate the diversity of older people in relation to health, and illness, to understand the bio-psycho-social model of ageing, to develop special skills in history taking, and presenting a focused, unique story learning from the aesthetics of film, and to learn how to critically analyze a life narrative from an independent viewpoint that is non-judgemental, compassionate and empathic.

At the end of the module, students were asked to deliver a short presentation analysing a particular film around age and ageing. Students selected shorts and features from world cinema portraying the diverse and rich experience of growing old. Film themes included successful ageing, resilience, frailty, dependency, institutionalisation, terminal illness, and advanced care planning. The module provided a safe space for medical students to reflect on the trials and tribulations of ‘old age’, and the possibility of considering ‘Geriatrics’ as a future career.