Tag Archives: assisted living

Senate Finance Committee hearing focuses on nursing home abuse

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Compelling, heartbreaking stories of abuse and neglect from the daughters of two elderly women drove home a call for tighter regulations, better oversight and more careful screening of nursing home staff during a Senate Committee on Finance hearing on March 6. The hearing comes in the wake of another horrific story, when a woman in a 14-year coma at a long-term care facility in Arizona gave birth after being raped.

Legislators from both sides of the aisle expressed outrage over mistreatment, neglect and other serious violations at nursing homes, despite years of efforts to enact additional reforms and more government supervision. Continue reading

Dementia training standards vary widely throughout U.S.

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Photo: BBC Radio 4 via Flickr

Photo: BBC Radio 4 via Flickr

A new survey of state laws around dementia training reveals a patchwork of requirements and standards across settings, professional licensure and personnel. It found that existing laws and training are not keeping up with the growing needs of people who are cognitively impaired.

The survey and accompanying analyses looked at existing laws and gaps in training, as well as required curriculums in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Continue reading

Calif. reporter finds dearth of public records on assisted-living homes

Deborah Schoch

About Deborah Schoch

Deborah Schoch, a member of AHCJ’s Right to Know Committee, is an independent health writer and investigative reporter. She was a Los Angeles Times staff writer for 18 years and helped found the CHCF Center for Health Reporting at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Photo by Ed Yourdon via Flickr

Photo by Ed Yourdon via Flickr

I knew next to nothing about the fast-growing assisted-living industry when I started reporting in early 2013 on problem homes in San Diego.

For example, I did not know that many seniors in today’s assisted-living homes are so frail and medically needy that they would have been in nursing homes 20 or 30 years ago. Many live in facilities with no medically trained staff.

Most astonishing to me was the lack of public access to state regulatory reports revealing the quality of care in homes, not only in California but nationally. We’re so accustomed to NursingHomeCompare and HospitalCompare – whatever their flaws – that the hoops families and journalists must leap through to judge an assisted-living home’s quality seem downright primitive. Continue reading

Cost of long-term care merits coverage, discussion

Judith Graham

About Judith Graham

Judith Graham (@judith_graham), is a freelance journalist based in Denver and former topic leader on aging for AHCJ. She haswritten for the New York Times, Kaiser Health News, the Washington Post, the Journal of the American Medical Association, STAT News, the Chicago Tribune, and other publications.

With the baby boomers aging into Medicare and heading into years when physical decline and disability gradually become more common, one thing seems certain: Long-term care will inevitably become a much more important topic of national discussion in the years ahead.

Judith GrahamJudith Graham (@judith_graham), AHCJ’s topic leader on aging, is writing blog posts, editing tip sheets and articles and gathering resources to help our members cover the many issues around our aging society.

If you have questions or suggestions for future resources on the topic, please send them to judith@healthjournalism.org.

Two recent articles underscore the point. One is by Stuart Butler, director of the Center for Policy Innovations at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. The other is by William Galston, a senior fellow in the governance studies program at the Brookings Institution, another think tank in the nation’s capital.

Both argue that a long-term care crisis is at hand and will only grow in scope as the baby boomers swell the ranks of older people who need assistance with household tasks (bill paying, shopping, cleaning), personal care (bathing, dressing, toileting) and custodial care.

“The growing cost of long-term care (LTC) is fast becoming a problem we can no longer ignore,” Butler writes. Continue reading

Housing, economic crises affect seniors’ health; briefing on long-term care

Judith Graham

About Judith Graham

Judith Graham (@judith_graham), is a freelance journalist based in Denver and former topic leader on aging for AHCJ. She haswritten for the New York Times, Kaiser Health News, the Washington Post, the Journal of the American Medical Association, STAT News, the Chicago Tribune, and other publications.

Many of you may have focused on Alzheimer’s disease and AIDS in the past few weeks, with major international conferences on both subjects. If you’re like me, you probably missed other developments on the aging beat while trying to keep up. Here are a few recent reports that may have escaped your attention:

Core Topics
Health Reform
Aging
Other Topics

Nightmare on Main Street: Older Americans and the Mortgage Market Crisis, from AARP

This is the most comprehensive examination to date at how the housing crisis has affected older Americans. The key findings, as described on AARP’s website:

“As of December 2011, approximately 3.5 million loans of people age 50+ were underwater-meaning homeowners owe more than their home is worth, so they have no equity; 600,000 loans of people age 50+ were in foreclosure, and another 625,000 loans were 90 or more days delinquent. From 2007 to 2011, more than 1.5 million older Americans lost their homes as a result of the mortgage crisis.”

The New York Times was one of the few publications to write about the AARP report. An excerpt from that story highlights the economic insecurity that many older adults are experiencing:

“(O)lder Americans are losing their homes because of pension cuts, rising medical costs, shrinking stock portfolios and falling property values, according to Debra Whitman, AARP’s executive vice president for policy. They are also not saving enough money. Half of households whose head is between 65 and 74 have no money in retirement accounts, according to the Federal Reserve.”

What are the health care implications? Older adults without secure housing are less likely to seek ongoing care and more likely to develop preventable complications from existing conditions as they struggle to keep afloat.

Watch for a tip sheet on the economic status of older adults on the AHCJ website in the months to come.

Securing our Future: Advancing Economic Security for Diverse Elders, from the Diverse Elders Coalition

Another look at the economic crisis and older Americans, this documents the special challenges faced by seniors of African-American, Hispanic, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) and other heritages. As noted in the introduction, all these groups experience disproportionately high poverty rates: Continue reading

Dignity, quality of life, accessibility in assisted living worth a look

Judith Graham

About Judith Graham

Judith Graham (@judith_graham), is a freelance journalist based in Denver and former topic leader on aging for AHCJ. She haswritten for the New York Times, Kaiser Health News, the Washington Post, the Journal of the American Medical Association, STAT News, the Chicago Tribune, and other publications.

Thanks to the The Miami Herald and a few other publications, dangerous conditions in assisted-living facilities have come under a spotlight and inspired some much-needed reforms.

But even well-run, well-appointed facilities have problems that deserve to be recognized. And for that we have Martin Bayne, a 62-year-old publisher, Zen monk, and former journalist who has early-onset Parkinson’s disease.

Core Topics
Health Reform
Aging
Other Topics

Bayne’s recent essay about assisted living, published in Health Affairs and reprinted in a condensed version in The Washington Post, is an enlightening, moving account of what it’s like to live in this type of environment.

This author’s voice is calm and direct as he takes readers inside the walls of facilities that shelter people not able to live on their own yet not sick enough for a nursing home. Bayne has resided in two such facilities over the past eight years, after he recognized that living independently was no longer an option. Continue reading