Facilities Housing News Spotlight

2023-12-19 Spotlight: Understaffed and neglected: How real estate investors reshaped assisted living

The Washington Post (free access), December 17, 2023
By Douglas MacMillan and Christopher Rowland

Surveillance video captured a 97-year-old woman’s death outside the locked doors of a high-end Colorado home, a symptom of deeper problems in the $34 billion industry. . .

Conceived about 40 years ago to give seniors more freedom in their final years of life, the assisted-living industry has been reshaped by real estate speculators looking to cash in on an aging nation. They were aided by Congress in 2008, when a new law gave certain investors the ability to hold senior-housing properties tax-free while also taking a slice of their annual income.

As a result, many facilities across the nation are now held by investors under pressure to produce profits for shareholders. In some places, a bare-bones approach to staffing and pay has produced a chaotic environment where medications are missed, falls and bed sores go unnoticed, residents are abused and confused seniors wander away undetected, according to a review of 160,000 state inspection reports and interviews with more than 50 current and former employees of assisted-living businesses and relatives of current and former residents.

In the past five years alone, nearly 100 residents have died after wandering away from these facilities or being left unattended outside, a Post investigation found. State regulators investigating these deaths frequently cited limited staff, poor training, or neglect.

Commentary on Washington Post article

Aging in America
Care costs continue to rise: Two-thirds of Americans will need some type of long-term care in their lifetime, but the price tag is easily more than most make in a year. See how the annual costs in your state compare to the rest of the nation.

Standards of care: An investigation from The Post found an alarming number of assisted-living residents die after wandering away unnoticed. No federal oversight exists, and industry regulations vary greatly by state. Know the facts about laws governing assisted-living facilities in your state.

Help for adult caregivers: Choosing care for your aging loved one can be overwhelming, especially if the person needing care has memory problems. We break down four questions to consider when deciding on assisted-living

DignityMA Notes

This is a timely Washington Post report detailing the current operating status of many assisted living residences throughout the country and the extent of oversight by state and federal regulators. The content is too extensive to effectively condense in The Dignity Digest. We encourage readers to access the entire report which is available free charge: 

Over 1,200 comments have been submitted in response to the report which are worthwhile reviewing.

There are three related reports that can be accessed under the label Aging in America.