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  • Lesson plan
  • Grades 11-12

Family and Caregiving: The Challenge of Caring for Our Elders


When Diego and his two brothers are brought together to care for their charismatic 93-year-old grandmother, América, they confront the transition from carefree adolescence to adult responsibilities in the documentary América from directors Erick Stoll and Chase Whiteside.

Diego is a young circus artist living away from his family in a tourist-filled beach city when he must return home suddenly—his grandmother fell from her bed, and as a result his father was jailed for elder neglect. Diego sees poetry and purpose in this tragedy. He believes that América, despite her immobility and advanced dementia, fell on purpose to bring the separated family back together. He reunites with his estranged brothers and leaves his old life behind.

Now Diego and his brothers face new challenges: freeing their father from an opaque court system while learning to care for América. Yet the greatest challenge might be learning to work together. As the brothers clash over money and the distribution of labor, difficult questions emerge: who decides what becomes of América, and how long will they put their lives on hold to care for her?

Learn more about América and explore additional resources about the film and filmmakers at:


Family Caregivers

Senior Care Students and Professionals

About the authors

Allison Milewski

Allison Milewski has developed media education resources for a range of award-winning filmmakers and national media organizations, including PBS LearningMedia, Independent Television Services (ITVS), Latino Public Broadcasting, HBO Documentaries, and Tribeca Film Institute. She is also the founder of the international media education program,