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  • Ralph Nelson takes a walk in the Saint John’s sculpture garden

    Ralph Nelson takes a walk in the Saint John’s sculpture garden

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The Film

Almost Home is a feature-length documentary that follows the daily lives of residents and staff at Saint John’s On The Lake, a retirement community in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Through a memorable cast of characters, candid interviews, and true-life drama, Almost Home presents real stories of aging — frightening, tender, funny, surprising, and honest.

At Saint John’s, an upscale retirement community with bright, spacious living quarters, residents mingle for afternoon cocktails, choose their own daily schedules, and pursue hobbies like woodworking and playing bridge. But they also struggle with the mundane and often unspoken facts of aging, including disability and dementia, changing relationships, and shrinking independence.

Almost Home offers an inside look at the lives of these residents, their families, and those who care for them, as each adjusts to the challenges of growing older. Almost Home filmmakers Brad Lichtenstein and Lisa Gildehaus introduce couples bonded and divided by disability, children torn between caring for their dependent parents and their own families, nursing assistants doing difficult work for extremely low wages, and visionary nursing home director John George, who is committed to transforming his century-old hospital-like institution into a true home.

Under George’s leadership, Saint John’s On The Lake is replacing its 135-year-old medical model of care (think hospital), with a social one (think home). His goal is to transform the way people see nursing homes — not as institutions of boredom and despair, but as vibrant communities where residents live rich and fulfilling lives. To succeed, he will have to win over skeptical managers, resistant nurses, overworked and underpaid nursing assistants, complacent residents, and often overwhelmed family members.

In a time when the topic of aging is often dismissed or ignored, Almost Home bravely challenges stereotypes and assumptions about seniors to reveal a truthful and thought-provoking portrait of life in a retirement community.

The Filmmakers

  1. Brad LichtensteinProducer/Director
  2. Lisa GildehausProducer/Director