Video: I Won’t Go (28 min Education Version) Director: Georgina Hurcombe Producer: LoveLove Films, Ltd. Available: Terra Nova Films, Inc. (http://terranova.org/film-catalog/i-wont-go/) Release Date: 2010 Oli Truss is a single older housebound woman in her nineties who lives alone in her rural home somewhere in Britain. As a child, videographer Georgina Hurcombe was her neighbor. She recalls the animals running around on Oli’s property and how “she used to teach me math after school.” That was 15 years ago. Georgina decides “to pay her another visit to find out about her unusual lifestyle.” I Won’t Go opens with scenes of Oli’s house—a condemned rural cottage. The first floor is filled with clutter. The second floor is now off limits. We see rooms with dried animal feces on the floor, active spider webs in ceiling corners, swarming insects that have gained access through a door frame, a decapitated bird, and cookware containing live maggots. Water runs continuously from the tap in the kitchen. Oli describes her usual morning routine to Georgina: “I don’t stay in bed. I get up about half past seven. I put my house coat on. I make a cup of tea and have a biscuit or something”. She seems confused as she tries to locate her cup, and realizes that she has also forgotten to fill the pot with water. She continues: “I don’t mind if I don’t see anyone . . . I’m quite happy not having them too long, in case it effects my, my . . . mental outfit. I can’t always think very quickly now, like I used to. . I’m happy on my own.” Oli is engaged in a struggle to remain in her home as long as she can—she is aging in place. Though brief, I Won’t Go succeeds in illustrating the meanings of aging in place—a residential condition championed by many gerontologists to be a key contributor to life satisfaction as well as a critical component of successful aging (Golant, 2015). The video reinforces recent calls to include the voices of older people in understanding what it means to age in place (Wiles, Leibing, Guberman, Reeve, & Allen, 2011). Here is a nice example of the importance of distinguishing between insider and outsider views of house and home: Liz Barnett, a local homecare aid, visits Oli a few days each week. She makes her bed, maintains her commode, puts her slippers on, helps her wash up, and “any little jobs that need doing.” She is asked by videographer Georgina what she thinks about Oli’s living conditions. Liz responds, “Pretty poor. Pretty poor. Yeah. No, not very safe. We’ve been banned from going upstairs, to the toilet up there. We can’t empty commodes up there because of . . . it’s unsafe.” Liz’s emotional reaction to the house is defined in terms of her own work. She washes maggots from a bowl of leftovers. “It’s always left for me!” Georgina asks Oli what she finds appealing about living in the house. Oli explains: “I like my home. I have no desire whatever to go away. I love staying at home. This is my house. I was born in this house and I will never leave it.” (Figure 1). She expresses the senses of place meaning, place attachment, and place dependency we hear from many other older adults. Though extreme, Oli’s case taps into basic issues that are common to large numbers of adults who grow old in very-long-time homes. Figure 1. View largeDownload slide Oli Truss: “I was born in this house and I will never leave it.” Figure 1. View largeDownload slide Oli Truss: “I was born in this house and I will never leave it.” Attachments aside, viewers may wonder if Oli is aging in the right place, given the physical and health-related risks of the setting. Golant (2015) believes that the generic “right” place to age in place offers emotional comfort (pleasurable, hassle-free, memorable good feelings) and emotional mastery (feelings of competency and being in control). He argues that over time elders may frequently reappraise these two zones and create a “new normal” to maintain continuity and equilibrium. Has Oli learned to live with the changes her home offers in terms of emotional comfort and autonomy? Georgina remarks to Oli: “You could go and live somewhere really nice now.” Oli responds: “Well, I’m happy about . . . you know, mine’s all right here. You mustn’t say it’s not nice. I could if I wanted to, but I won’t. I’m perfectly happy. I enjoy my home. I’m thankful for what I’ve got.” I Won’t Go offers another perspective on aging in place that I believe is rarely considered among gerontology scholars. Personal biography and history have contributed to her selection to return to her home and to her persistence to remain there. Georgina asks Oli to share her past. Her story is intriguing. Oli was married several years earlier. Her husband won the English equivalent of nearly one millions dollars in the “pools” (lottery). The couple managed to keep the lottery win a secret for a while, but eventually the news leaked out among the villagers, creating an “unhappy experience.” She reports being severely stung by village gossip “and all that was thrown at you about the money.” She retreated into the safety of her own home and continued her teaching. Her relationship with her husband soured: “I had him, but he had that. It completely ruined our marriage. Everything changed, my life, and marriage went after that. Eventually he went and I never saw him again.” Oli became headmistress of her school. “That was my life. That was all I thought of, nothing else mattered.” Video narration tells us that “she retreated further and further into her solitary life, with animals (a pony, a dog, and a cat) and children the only companions she felt she could trust.” This place—her right place—continues to assuage her social anxiety. Georgina: “What do you think about old people living by themselves?” Oli: “There must be some people someplace who don’t like living by themselves, but I do. I know what it is like living by myself, but I like it. It’s part of my happy life. As the film closes, we see that Oli’s aging in place was also anchored in her future hope to die in her home: “I want to die here. If I’ve got to go . . . anyway, well that’s it.” She died shortly after the deaths of her beloved animals. References Golant , S. M . ( 2015 ). Aging in the right place . Baltimore : Health Professions Press . Wiles , J. , Leibing , A. , Guberman , N. , Reeve , J. , & Allen , R . ( 2011 ). The meaning of “aging in place” to older people . The Gerontologist , 52 , 357 – 366 . doi: 10.1093/geront/gnr098 Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)
The Gerontologist – Oxford University Press
Published: Apr 2, 2018
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