What can one expect in an assisted living facility? It can be hard to evaluate their seemingly bucolic surroundings based solely on their websites and promotional literature. The team at Frontline teamed up with Pro Publica to craft this well-done documentary on the assisted living industry in the United States. Visitors can watch the entire 53 minute documentary online or explore the site’s wealth of extra features. Users shouldn’t miss the interviews with two of the nation’s largest assisted living companies or the very compelling live chat transcript with the filmmakers, titled Is Assisted Living Safe for Your Parents? Journalists, in particular, will appreciate the section How “Life and Death in Assisted Living” Was Reported.
Not long ago, I could name the really excellent recent movies about aging on one hand. Now I’m running short of fingers, which I hope reflects filmmakers’ dawning recognition of the way this global demographic shift affects all our lives. The latest entry, a Canadian movie called “Still Mine,” opened in New York, Washington, Phoenix and several other cities last month and will arrive in Denver, Atlanta, Seattle, Charlotte and more locations today.
And, just as rain is the standard symbol for Seattle, dementia has become a standard trope for aging:
Interesting, isn’t it, how many of the best films about aging zero in on dementia? On my personal favorites list (adding “Still Mine” to “Amour,”“The Iron Lady,” “Iris,” “The Savages,” “Away from Her” and “About Schmidt”), all but the last incorporate a central character suffering from this disease. Screenwriters, and novelists like Walter Mosley and Alice LaPlante, can’t seem to resist its intrinsic here-but-not-here drama.
“Still Mine” is clear-eyed about this phase, not nearly as brutal as the masterful “Amour,” but more grounded than “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and “Quartet,” both of which featured charming British actors in fluffy screenplays that carefully evaded most realities of advanced age.
This film doesn’t, but it is gentle, more gentle than life can be.
the hourlong “Frontline” documentary “Life and Death in Assisted Living,” airing Tuesday night on PBS stations across the country, doesn’t really break new ground on the subject. But it is important nonetheless.One reason is that families, who make most of the decisions about assisted living, don’t pore over gerontology journals or state regulations as they are looking for a place that is not a nursing home.
So they don’t always realize that these reassuring-looking residences may have no nurse on the premises most of the time, that health care in assisted living frequently consists of a 911 call, that the average length of stay — according to the Assisted Living Federation of America — is less than two years.
TORONTO – Studies show that Canada’s elderly are at a much higher risk of suicide than adolescents, and there is growing concern among mental health experts that psychological care may be out of reach for most seniors.
Dr. Marnin Heisel, a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Western Ontario, says lack of public awareness of the issue is a key problem that affects not only the elderly, but their families and the public in general.
Although this article reports on the problem in Canada, depression among older adults is by no means confined to that country.
As pointed out here, there is a need for public awareness about the issue of older adults and depression. Family and friends should be aware of what signs to look for and should not hesitate to discuss the issue with older friends and family members.
One interesting point here is the observation that suicide might sometimes pass for death by natural causes in this age group unless coroners, alerted by reports of depression, know to look specifically for signs of suicide on autopsy.
This article describes a patient who benefited from early diagnosis of a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease. But for most people, early diagnosis of dementia only provides knowledge of a problem for which there is no effective treatment.
the push for ever-earlier dementia screening raises troubling questions for patients and their families. When the diagnosis is early Alzheimer’s disease, the medical profession has little treatment to offer. This month, researchers at an Alzheimer’s Association conference in Boston urged policy makers to think hard before recommending wider dementia screening, saying studies have found no evidence that early detection improves outcomes.
And the experts said that little, if anything, is known about the potential risks of early detection. The diagnosis may cause stress, anxiety, depression and even suicide in patients, and can have implications for employment, purchasing life and long-term care insurance, and one’s overall quality of life, sense of autonomy and self-image.
While there are no easy answers, the article concludes with an encouragement for older adults and their family members who begin noticing signs of cognitive impairment to get a thorough medical examination:
The physician should take a history, do a thorough exam, and rule out a number of potential causes of mental impairment: depression; thyroid, kidney and liver function; vitamin B12 levels; infections; and dehydration and electrolyte disturbances. . . . The physician should also do a careful review of medications, since many drugs can have adverse effects on cognition. . . . Reassuringly, many people who experience mild cognitive impairment do not progress to dementia, and many even return to normal, some studies suggest. A study of primary care patients seen at Wishard Health Services identified 130 patients with mild cognitive impairment. A year later, most were stable, and nearly one-third had reverted to normal.