How I did it
Learn from these journalists how they have covered various aspects of aging. They provide valuable tips and sources and explain how they got past the challenges to explain the complex issues to their audiences.
How I did it: Reporting on COVID deaths in state veterans homes
How a tip exposed serious flaws in rapidly testing nursing home residents for COVID-19
Multigenerational households, which can span grandparents down to grandchildren, are common in communities of color, immigrant communities and low-income families. Millions of people in these households face a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus because they often include not only the elderly but also essential workers who can’t work from home. Once COVID-19 enters a larger household, it routinely and quickly infects everyone in it.
These issues received a lot of attention in the earlier stages of the pandemic last year. Many media outlets published stories about several generations living under the same roof and the potential dangers of contracting the coronavirus. A good number in these homes contain essential workers with jobs that put them at risk of infection. But as the vaccine rollout began, most states didn’t adopt policies that prioritized these households. Our story explored this gap as we analyzed county-by-county data showing that people of color — who are at greater risk of contracting the virus — are more likely to live in the same home with older relatives. This became the foundation of this story. We tried to answer this question: did state officials consider the family structures and population health issues common among people of color?
How a tip exposed serious flaws in rapidly testing nursing home residents for COVID-19
While the administration is touting them as a quick way to identify asymptomatic carriers, Pradhan found out that’s not exactly how they’re supposed to work.
Pradhan’s piece offers journalists some excellent ideas for questions to ask of both nursing home administrators and public health officials — from exactly which tests they use on residents and staff to their experience with positivity rates.
Leveraging in-person opportunities enabled reporter to turn out dementia series on a tight deadline
Contemplating aging and loneliness leads to podcast
Atwood now writes a blog called Catching Health and not long ago, decided to start a podcast about what it’s like to grow old in Maine — a state tied with Florida for the oldest average population. Conversations About Aging looks at how Mainers deal with the good and bad that accompany aging, and some of the unique personalities who make up the state’s older population.
Here, she tells us about how she embarked on the podcast and what she has learned through the experience.
Looking behind the hype — and potential — of a lifestyle approach to Alzheimer’s
In this How I Did It piece, she explains how she pulled the pieces together for a look at how lifestyle therapies were succeeding for many in early disease stages, while most drugs never made it out of study phase.
Striking the right balance when reporting on vulnerable older adults
In her reporting, she talked to researchers who measure the impact of programs such as Meals on Wheels. But she needed to find a person to tell the story, someone who was living that food insecurity.
Turned away from care: Dementia patients with signs of aggression have limited options
Nursing home administrators worry that such patients could hurt staff members or other residents if they lash out because of confusion or panic rooted in their dementia. That’s why nursing homes increasingly decline to take such residents, meaning some patients wind up living in facilities hundreds of miles from their families.
Find what Tony Leys calls the worst part of the story.
How one reporter accidentally stumbled on a state-wide prescribing investigation
But it surprised Cheryl Clark that no media organization had published anything on this California effort when she found out about it, though it had been going on for more than three years.
Designed to identify excessive opioid prescribers, the ongoing project involves the Medical Board of California’s review of nearly 2,700 death certificates for patients with confirmed fatal overdoses in 2012 and 2013.
Award-winning journalist helps students dive deep into local elder abuse investigation
Breton, (along with two of her student reporters), discussed their experiences for the Providence Journal’s “From the Newsroom” podcast. In a follow-up interview, Breton further detailed aspects of this significant body of reporting.
End-of-life series educates both readers and reporter
Luanne Rife, health reporter at the Roanoke Times, not only wrote extensively about these issues, gave readers a close up view of the process through intimate and memorable profiles. She was welcomed with open arms by several terminally ill patients and families, in her series Final Wishes: Navigating LIfe’s Last Journey.
Reporters’ data analysis added credibility to anecdotal evidence of hospice neglect
Lessons learned from one reporter’s immersion into end-of-life issues
I started reporting on death and dying 20 years ago and decided to revisit this topic following the death of my mother in 2015. Her death was (and still is) very much on my mind, and I thought that plunging into this new reporting project would help me process my grief and channel my energies into something useful.
Digging into nursing home data found correlation between spending, quality
Making it personal: Chronicling the end of life
Lane DeGregory wanted to explore the issue of physician-aid-in-dying, which was legal in a few states and had just been passed in Canada and California. She wondered: What options do people in other states have?
Here she tells us how she found a couple to write about, what she learned about end-of-life options and the challenges in reporting such an intimate part of people's lives.
Reporter: Oral health has become important gateway to other issues on his beat
In San Diego, an innovative nonprofit dental clinic that recently opened in a senior center is aiming to address the problem. Reporter Paul Sisson, who covers health care for the San Diego Union-Tribune paid a visit and provided readers with an engaging story that captured the spirit of the place and highlighted the deep needs it aims to serve. In this Q and A, Sisson talks about his work on the dental clinic feature and shares some wisdom on how he stays on top of his busy health care beat.
How to break down a big topic into a reader-friendly multipart series
She came across these numbers while researching a potential series of stories for Kaiser Health News about how elderly patients fare in hospitals. She was curious about the reasons for a high rate of disability. After extensive research, a common theme emerged and it was clear that this wasn't simply because the patients were old or sick.
Here, she describes how she researched the series, organized her reporting and the stories, and even shares what she thinks would have made the series even stronger.
How one reporter helped launch his paper's new section on aging
So why would an experienced journalist approach his editor to take on even more responsibility? Gary Rotstein, a self-admitted anti-digital-anything reporter at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, realized that the online environment could actually be a place where stories about his beat — aging — could shine.
Investigating cutbacks in Ontario's home care system
She teamed up with senior reporter Elizabeth Church and they began to dig.
That led to a three-month pursuit involving dozens of interviews – some with elderly clients who were afraid to talk to the media and, indeed, had been warned not to – and the difficult and often Byzantine task of getting documents from the government's 14 regional home-care agencies.
In nursing home investigations, a small tip can lead to an iceberg of problems
Her award-winning coverage involved trying to talk to unwilling company officials, hearing from frustrated employees and the families of people who received questionable care, public records requests and more.
In this article, Lazar explains the extensive efforts involved in pursuing a lead that still has unanswered questions.
Despite offerings, reporter finds nursing home beds and funds still lacking
He soon realized the volume of work entailed in doing such a broad comparison would be unmanageable.
Here, he shares his experience and some of the techniques he used to produce two packages comparing mental health care and nursing home care in the two states.
Real-world reminder of the dangers of a tiny study
Sometimes we get lucky and are allowed to do long term projects in which we can fully immerse our professional selves for a longer time but, in today's newsroom, those times are disappearing.
Mostly we're here, we take notes, record 60 seconds of video and we're back out. Follow up is usually done via phone, emails or messaging apps.
If I had been doing a story on a recent "assignment," that methodology would have been the wrong approach and a disservice to readers and the story. Let me tell you why.
Reporter explains how he turned a troubling hospice death into an investigative series
How to wrap your arms around a topic as broad as poverty and aging
Despite some national trends, it’s a question with very local answers. In New York City, it turned out that many seniors are struggling financially: one in five are poor, and senior poverty rates, which are dropping across the country, are on the rise.
Reporter explains how she cultivated sources for story on senior dental care
The patients’ frank accounts of their pain and relief, included in a recent feature by Cho, brought the issue home for readers of the Dallas Morning News.
A personal journey with Alzheimer's
But it can be done. Pieter Droppert, a UK journalist now based in Miami, explains how he went about reporting and producing his radio documentary, "Living Well with Dementia – a personal journey."
How two elderly women prompted a hard look at Florida’s elder guardianship system
As attorneys and officials on the panel spoke about how relatives prey on older Floridians to separate them from their money, I saw two sweet-looking ladies nodding vigorously at each other.
They were sisters-in-law, and in June 2013 we published the story of their unsuccessful legal struggle to rescue their husband and brother, a former county judge, from a guardianship they believed was depleting his finances and his health. The attorneys and guardians I spoke with insisted that this case was an outlier in a system that works well to protect vulnerable elders. Then I started to get calls and emails from others who felt trapped and frustrated by this same well-intended system.
Calif. reporter finds dearth of public records on assisted-living homes
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.
With serious effort, important records can be tracked down, as my U-T San Diego reporting partners and I learned while working on “Deadly Neglect,” an investigative series produced by the U-T and the CHCF Center for Health Reporting.
How one reporting team used public records to find questionable Medicare Advantage spending
But there’s a lot federal officials don’t want the public to see when it comes to Medicare Advantage, a type of Medicare plan administered by private insurance companies. Federal officials refuse to disclose detailed financial records of these health plans – even though these plans are growing fast and insure almost one in three people eligible for Medicare. That’s nearly 16 million people, at a cost to taxpayers likely to top $150 billion this year.
Dominated by some of the nation’s mightiest insurance carriers, Medicare Advantage has faced little scrutiny from lawmakers or the media despite years of audits and research papers showing that overbilling is widespread. So while it’s open season on “fee-for-service” charges by doctors and hospitals, Medicare Advantage data remain under wraps. One government official called it a “black box.”
Investigation: Officials sent sick, dying homeless people to unlicensed facility
Author makes transition from print to blogging
Gleckman discusses the range of topics he covers, the value of feedback he receives through his social media efforts, how much time he spends on various projects and more.
Documentary reveals struggles of aging LGBT community
Growing old and becoming ill and dependent can stir up painful feelings. Am I a worthwhile person? Will others stay by me or abandon me if I show them who I really am? Can I trust that I won’t be judged? Will I be treated well if I display my vulnerability, or do I have to put up my guard?
Filmmaker Stu Maddux, a former television journalist, anchor and producer, takes us inside this world in Gen Silent, a film that profiles six LGBT seniors and the issues they’re facing as they age. Maddux recently spoke at length with AHCJ topic leader Judith Graham about making this film and we share highlights of that conversation.
Tracking antipsychotic use in nursing homes
The Boston Globe project, “A rampant prescription, a hidden peril,” aimed to pull back the curtain on a long-running but shrouded practice in many nursing homes of using antipsychotic drugs to sedate residents, particularly those with dementia who often have challenging behaviors.
Reporter explores difficult end-of-life questions through father's death
At the center of Krieger’s unflinching account of her father’s last days is an uncomfortable question: “Just because it's possible to prolong a life, should we?”
Hundreds of readers wrote in to thank Krieger for sharing her story and going beyond the “death panel” rhetoric that so often stifles honest discussion of end-of-life concerns. Her work demonstrates that reporters can sometimes tell the story from an unusual perspective – their own – and touch readers in a different way than would be possible with more traditional coverage.
Columnist writes about intersection
Chicago Tribune reporters David Jackson and Gary Marx, in a three-month investigation into the policies and practices of Illinois nursing homes, found that Illinois is an outlier among states in its reliance on nursing homes to house younger adults with mental illness, including thousands of felons whose disabilities qualify them for Medicaid-funded nursing care.
Jackson and Marx documented numerous recent cases in which violent psychiatric patients who were not receiving proper treatment assaulted, raped and even murdered their elderly and disabled housemates. The stories also showed how the chaotic and harmful behavior can spill outside the nursing home walls when patients are not properly supervised.
In this piece for AHCJ members, Jackson and Marx describe some of the techniques they used in the investigation.
Duane Schrag of the Salina (Kan.) Journal discovered critical data was missing from the federal Nursing Home Compare data online.
The federal government encourages consumers to use Nursing Home Compare to help them choose long-term care facilities. It takes into account variables such as health inspection results, nursing home staff data, quality measures and fire safety inspections. Additionally, reporters have used the data to investigate nursing homes.
In this article, Schrag shares how he discovered the holes in the data and what he learned about Nursing Home Compare.
Matt Canham of The Salt Lake Tribune scoured nursing home inspection reports – not available online in Utah – and found details of hundreds of deficiencies. He used those reports to build a database that's now available on the paper's Web site for the public to search. Through the data, Canham was able to identify problem homes. Most were “yo-yo” facilities, dipping in and out of compliance. The series also found that ownership is a top predictor of quality, though neither the state nor federal government has good information on who owns these facilities. This article is accompanied by a number of resources, including tip sheets, a video of story ideas, related articles and Web sites.
Lisa Chedekel and Lynne Tuohy of The Hartford Courant used health inspection records, cost reports and court records to disclose that one of Connecticut's largest nursing home chains was repeatedly cited for serious patient-care deficiencies, was deep in debt and that there numerous allegations of wrongdoing in pending litigation. They write about how they went about researching and reporting the story.
Ziva Branstetter of The Tulsa World recently reported a series of articles about assisted-living centers. She found that the public is remarkably uninformed about major issues such as what services to expect in assisted living, when to choose a higher level of care and what a center's inspection records reveal. In addition, "assisted living" can mean different things to different people and in different states, and there are no specific federal regulations governing assisted-living centers; each state has its own standards.
|Mission & goals|
|Bylaws & principles|
|Board of directors|