PBS’s: “Life and Death in Assisted Living”–When Assisted Living Doesn’t Help Parents Age Well

At some point I’m guessing most of us have thought about assisted living–either as a future option if adequate help is unavailable or we know people who reside there. (FYI assisted living is home to 750,000 American seniors.)

The people I’ve known are there primarily because of mobility issues or problems with balance. That said, I have an 88-year-old relative who has been in assisted living for several years, initially due to a series of minor falls and irreversible vision problems. At this point she says she’s having memory problems. Of course this is not unique as people age, whether in assisted-living or not. It’s what happens next that could be problematical.

I didn’t know what to expect this past Tuesday, when I watched PBS’s FRONTLINE report: “Life and Death in Assisted Living.” FRONTLINE focused on the largest of the assisted living companies, Emeritus. (Specifics about  the company are in the “chat” link below.) The assumptions families make about assisted living care vs. the reality are understandable, but….

Issues addressed regarding inadequate care and staff training were an eye-opener. One possible explanation: assisted living facilities are not regulated (nursing homes are). In the “live chat” the next day, one speaker compared assisted living regulation to day care center regulation 40 years ago.

Watch the program– http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/life-and-death-in-assisted-living/

Link to the next day’s live chat text– http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/social-issues/life-and-death-in-assisted-living/is-assisted-living-safe-for-your-parents-live-chat-wed-2-p-m-et/ (Text of the dialog is especially good as we can refer to it again,) Two adult children featured in the PBS program take part.

Check out the resource guide Next Avenue put together “to help people evaluate facilities and learn about assisted living”– http://goo.gl/Vr7evV

Learn the 7 questions to ask when looking for assisted living —to.pbs.org/13Y16yV

Learn about FATE (Foundation Aiding the Elderly) http://www.4fate.org/html/about_fate.html 

PBS has provided an important “heads up” as we try to help parents age well.  Thoughts?