Breathe Easy

Breathe Easy

When 78-year-old Lois Perelman's emphysema, a form of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), recently became severe she was devastated at the thought that she would have to carry an oxygen tank around for the rest of her life. It was hard to accept the reality that her body was aging and she needed support to breathe, but harder yet to deal with the sympathy and condescension she anticipated from others.

In 'Aging with Wit and Wisdom,' the course she teaches at Carnegie Mellon's Osher Lifelong Learning Program, Lois points out that people carry around 'tapes' in their minds that, over time, can create exaggerated, misleading and ultimately discriminatory generalizations. Determined not to let her own past stereotypes of people on oxygen affect her enthusiasm for life, she set out to change the tape in her own head and society's views as well.

Today, Lois goes about her weekly grocery shopping and exercise classes, oxygen tank in hand, teaching people to see the person behind the plastic tubes. Active and capable, she points out that even though you may have to live with a physical disability, you're still free to choose your attitude about it. She's stopped looking back. 'I don't feel like a young person,' she says, 'because I'm not young. I'm just in good shape. I'm seventy-eight, and I feel terrific.'

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Main credits

Parish, Keith (film director)
Parish, Keith (film producer)
Fadiman, Dorothy (film producer)
Perelman, Lois (on-screen participant)

Other credits

Producers, Dorothy Fadiman, Keith Parish.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

Aging and Long-Term Care
Captioned Films
Chronic Illness / Heart Disease


Film; Documentary; Video; DVD; Captioned video; Closed captioned; Closed-captioned; COPD; Emphysema ; Oxygen tank; Oxygen; Tank; Aging; Disability; Breathing; Breathe; Age Discrimination; Discrimination; Women's Health; Woman; ; "Breathe Easy"; The Fanlight Collection