“Life and Death in Assisted Living"

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Frontline correspondent and ProPublica reporter A. C. Thompson discusses “Life and Death in Assisted Living,” a yearlong Frontline investigation in collaboration with ProPublica that explores the multi-billion dollar assisted living industry—and asks whether one of America's largest assisted living companies may be putting the lives of our loved ones at risk. “Life and Death in Assisted Living” premieres July 30, at 10 p.m. on PBS.


A.C. Thompson

Comments [13]

Al from BC NJ

Assisted living has been the best thing to happen for mother. Its a beautiful place located in Bergen County NJ. Far cheaper than keeping and maintaining a home and paying for home health services, as well as food and utilities. If the assisted living corp makes a profit, even better. I know liberals despise profitable business, but its the competition and lack of government interfearing that makes is so.

Jul. 30 2013 06:58 PM
The Truth from Becky

This is a shame, a crying shame that you can't afford to get old and not have good health.

Jul. 30 2013 01:59 PM

In the meanwhile ...until we can count on "proficient" robots to care for us ...we have some of the lowest paid, poorly trained health care attendants to care for the elderly. How can we possibly expect them to do a sufficient job? Caring for the elderly and disabled is quite difficult and physically demanding - I've done it several times for family members and often it amounts to more than a full time job.

Realistically, one should save enough to pay for 2 full time LIVING WAGE employees to provide care for the last ten years of one's life - that's about $80,000 per year to have COMPETENT CAREtakers coming to your home. Given that most of us cannot come up with that type of money, unfortunately, most who need assistance will not get the best of care. On the other hand, most of the current "caretakers" have not gotten a the "living wage or best of care" since birth. So what type of "care" can we expect from workers who have been marginalized their whole lives?

Jul. 30 2013 01:01 PM
K.Schulte from Long Island

I am writing as a professional social worker and an ombudsman in NYS. There are major problems with both the nursing home industry and assisted living. While nursing homes are regulated by medicare and medicaid regs that have basically not changed since the 1960's, assisted living grew out of the absence of a level of care eliminated from nursing homes called "intermediated care services," sometime in the mid-1980's. This left a need for elderly who were ambulatory and alert but needed some help with medications, daily care to go into so-called assisted living, not covered by medicare or medicaid. There are still some "adult homes"l covered by medicaid; usually these patients have mental health problems. Everything else is privately paid often leading patiens is assisted care to use their hard earned monies. In nursing home care as in assisted living, there is very little that defines ratio of staff to patient, very little that addresses direct care needs beyond basics. These are policy issues that have never been addressed due to the great influence the Nursing Home Lobby and Assisted Care Facilities have on Washington and in individual states.

Jul. 30 2013 12:58 PM
Claire from brooklyn, ny

My father just died in an Assisted Living facility. Even though it was a "non-profit", it was extremely expensive and they were constantly raising the rate. My father was paying more a month than I even make. I have no idea what I will do when I get old.

When my sister and brother went to empty out his small home, they wouldn't even let them eat in the cafeteria even though my father had already paid for his food for the month. They were appalled that they even asked if they could eat there while they were trying to clean out the house. My father died on the 14th of the month and we had until the end of the month to clean everything out. Had my father died at the end of the month I assume we may have had hours to get all of his stuff out.

It is about money. Plain and simple. I would never want to go to such a place. It is clearly not about the people. It is about money, but clearly we have a much bigger problem on our hands- who takes care of us when we get old? How do we change this system?

Jul. 30 2013 12:37 PM
Ed from Larchmont

And what happens when our society no longer has the money to pay for all the care? A woman named Jeanne Jugan started communities that serve the elderly - Little Sisters of the Poor nursing homes - did you visit any? - she was just canonized.

Jul. 30 2013 12:36 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

The Japanese, as usual, have found the answer: ROBOTS. We will be importing Japanese robots within ten years as we do Japanese cars. Maybe the Japanese will build some of them here. The Japanese do not want nor rely on immigration or cheap labor. They seek technological solutions first, and have no prejudice against robots. They love robots. I hope a good robot will take care of me in 20 years when I reach that point in life, I hope.I don't trust any people to take decent care of me, nor do I want anyone to be burdened with the task.

Jul. 30 2013 12:33 PM
Carl from NJ from NJ

I have recent experience with this subject.
Assisted Living is VERY EXPENSIVE. It is very close to the Nursing Home/skilled nursing costs. As noted, the big difference is that YOU pay for it, not insurance.
The money you are paying is CERTAINLY NOT going to the staff. They do not get much in pay, or training, there are not enough health aids and the nurse (usually only 1) is WAY overworked --spends most time on paperwork, rather than people.
There are nice aspects to it, but the 'corporate' approach -- which emphasizes profits and growth - dominates the way it is run and puts the many dedicated workers under extra pressure. And makes the family work hard to keep the resident comfortable/happy.

Jul. 30 2013 12:27 PM
Ed from Larchmont

As we get older as a population, I have no idea where the people will come from who will take care of all the older people.

Jul. 30 2013 12:26 PM
harry bowels from nyc

The whole medical profession is about marketing and selling.

You think that when you go to a doctor he's not sitting there thinking how can I bill the insurance company for what I am about to tell the patient to do.

only difference is that Dr can get sued personally and sounds like in these places you are covered by a corporation.

Jul. 30 2013 12:24 PM
Ed from Larchmont

No idea how the aids meet the needs of the people, moving them around, etc., as hard as they work.

Jul. 30 2013 12:20 PM
Ken from UWS

Can he talk about the assisted living chains that kick Medicaid recipients out of their facilities?

Jul. 30 2013 12:18 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Perhaps Americans should look into the following as a solution:

Japan Looks to Robots for Future Aged Care
Published on February 6, 2011 at 2:18 PM

By Andy Choi

"Automated help in the home and hospitals could be the answer to all sorts of problems. A rapidly ageing ‘first world’ is therefore paying close attention to Japan's dalliance with automated care.

Japanese researchers are looking to construct the nursing-care and medical-care needed in a future with fewer younger people to take care of the elderly..."

Jul. 30 2013 12:08 PM

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