Tools and Inspiration for Empowered Aging

Books and DVDs for Inspirational Aging

Alive Inside

A Documentary by Michael Rossato-Bennett 2014

This film takes us deep into nursing homes where people diagnosed with Dementia and Alzheimers are routinely given a variety of drugs which have been linked to the worsening of these conditions.  It is a tragic story until Dan Cohen, social worker and founder of the non-profit Music & Memory organization makes his appearance with iPods programmed to play the specific music of each person's life . . . the music they danced to as youngsters . . . the music they married to . . . the music they grieved with . . . the music they identified as their generation's soundtrack.  Cohen's premise is that music connects us with our lives in a way that nothing else does. His premise is supported by research demonstrating how music lives on in the brain and the heart long after the ravages of Alzheimer's and Dementia are manifesting.  This film makes the heart leap with the same joy that promps its subjects to sing and dance as they listen to their music and remember who they have been.  If you see no other film this year, see Alive Inside.  You can learn more about this vitally important musical approach to healing at

Healthy at 100 by John Robbins
Ballantine Books, 2007 

John Robbins, the same compassionate and well informed writer who gave us Diet for A New America: How Your Food Choices Affect Your Heath, Happiness, and the Future of Life on Earth in 1987, has written the quintessential book on how to age with joy and skill.  

Healthy at 100 is subtitled How You Can – at any age – Dramatically Increase Your Life Span and your Health Span. This is quite a claim, one the author supports by examining four distinct cultures and their successful aging strategies. By successful aging, I mean healthy, vital, productive, joyful aging. For more information on how these cultures produce long-lived, engaged citizens, please visit  

Standing Silent Nation

Prairie Dust Films, 2007

Long the centre of controversy here in the United States, the growing of industrial grade hemp remains a legal issue despite industrial hemp's viability as a key contributor to local sustainable food systems.  In this film we witness political and law-enforcement pressure exerted against a Lakota family's "struggles to retain tribal identy and sovereignty" in a narrative revealing how powerful the lobby against establishing a sustainable hemp economy is in the US.  If you don't know about the benefits of industrial hemp, a casual web search will provide research proving its versatility as a food crop, a building resource, a fabric source, and a biomass crop.  For anyone looking for a cause to work for, this film will inspire you.  Please visit for more information.

Forks over Knives
Monica Beach Media, 2011  

This documentary explores how shifting to a plant-based diet cured degenerative diseases – including diabetes and heart disease – in several individuals willing to follow the regime of physicians prescribing a whole-foods diet rather than medications to improve health. This work is informed by the research of Dr. Collin Campbell, a nutritional biochemist from Cornell, and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, a former surgeon at “the world renowned Cleveland Clinic.” Interviews with research subjects and physicians make this 96 minute documentary a must-see for every citizen searching for healthy alternatives that empower individuals and are good for the planet. For more information about Forks over Knives, please visit

A Place at the Table

Magnolia Home Entertainment, 2013

This DVD profiles food deserts and food insecurity, not in the developing world but right here in the United States.  A provocative look at the political influences that keep so many children hungry, this DVD belongs on every social justice curriculum in the west.  As the producers claim, "A Place at the Table shows how this [hunger] issue could be solved forever, once the Americal public decides - as they have in the past - that ending hunder is in the best interests of us all."  For more information about A Place at the Table, please visit and

Treasures on Your Doorstep/The other national parks of the USA

Seventh Circle Enterprises, 2013

Our need for the natural world’s balancing gifts grows stronger as the pressures of daily life take their toll.  Sometimes a walk in a nearby park can restore our sense of balance and deep connection with the other-than-human forces that enrich our lives, but sometimes we need a deeper experience of wildness.  Julia Lynam’s Treasures reminds us of the National Park Services (NPS) that are close enough for a day trip and inexpensive enough for frequent restorative visits.  Filled with practical information about the NPS, Lynam’s book takes us into this network of natural and historical vitality and allows us to see these properties sometimes for the first time and always with fresh eyes.  To learn more about Julia Lynam and her new publication, email and visit