Nine to Ninety

Nine to Ninety aired January 2016

Nine to Ninety

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Aired: 2016-02-03 05:00:00 5:14 Rating: TV-PG

An update with the family featured in Nine To Ninety: How to live the end of your life?

About the Program

A story of a family at a crossroads, Nine to Ninety is an intimate portrait of three generations coming together to face the questions and consequences of aging. The heart of the film is the love story of Phyllis and Joe Sabatini, who at ages 89 and 90 live in the home of their daughter and son-in-law, where they relish time with their granddaughter Jacqueline.

"It’s kind of like having siblings. They act annoying like them too."

– Nine-year-old Jacqueline, of her grandparents living with her family

Not wanting to be a burden to her children, Phyllis is steadfast in her daily routine of exercises, preparing her own meals and staying on top of her medication.  In many ways, Joe is just the opposite. Phyllis is afraid and frustrated that Joe has given up. Her independence is what keeps her going, and Phyllis undertakes to make decisions about her future while she can still care for herself in many ways.

Read more about the program below.

A Closer Look at Nine to Ninety

More About the Program

 “I rang the wrong doorbell. That’s how I found her.” 

— Joe remembers of meeting Phyllis

“He was a handsome dude.”

— Phyllis responds with a smile

As Phyllis and her husband, Joe, struggle with worsening health problems, their daughters Angie and Sarah have taken on the responsibilities of making many decisions for their parents. Part of the growing “Sandwich Generation,” the sisters work from two coasts to stay on top of the many doctors appointments and therapies. But when the family is hit by the news that Joe has been diagnosed with kidney failure, Phyllis is keenly aware of the increasing caregiving work that her daughter Sarah’s family would have to take on if she and Joe remain living with them. After troubled reflection, Phyllis declares she wants to go into assisted living in Philadelphia. While resources are too limited to afford assisted living, Phyllis’ request shakes up the family. Together they make a bold decision that Phyllis will move back to the East Coast with her daughter Angie with the hope of easing the burden on her youngest daughter Sarah. But this means leaving her husband of 62 years, Joe, 3,000 miles away in California.

While everyone else is afraid of the impending goodbyes and becomes more and more anxious, Phyllis approaches the inevitable with courage and practicality. “We’ve got to talk about it!” she tells them. One evening Phyllis sits down with Jacqueline, Juli and Angie and brings out her jewelry, which she wishes to leave to her granddaughters. Jacqueline wonders aloud if this is her grandmother’s passing away ceremony. Unable to face that reality, Juli and Angie skirt the question as Phyllis explains that this is the time for her to give these precious things to the younger generation. 

“I love her. And I’m going to keep on loving her.”

— Joe says of Phyllis as they prepare for her departure

Phyllis and Joe’s wrenching decision to part begs the deepest questions of love, responsibility, burden, loss and grace.


Nine to Ninety was produced by ITVS.
Visit the official Nine to Ninety website at


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