Series examines the ways in which the financial and emotional toll of providing and paying for long-term care are wreaking havoc on the lives of millions of Americans.
Today, KFF Health News and The New York Times published the first phase of an investigation into America’s long-term care crisis, which has left many in the boomer generation facing the prospect of exhausting their financial resources as the price tag for care explodes. Dying Broke, the investigative series, uses KFF polling, original analysis and interviews with experts and impacted individuals and their families to examine the challenges facing families and caregivers in navigating long-term care.
The financial and emotional toll of providing and paying for long-term care is wreaking havoc on the lives of millions of Americans. Paid care, either at home or in a facility, is often so expensive that only the wealthy can afford it, and many of the for-profit companies providing care raised their prices sharply during the pandemic. The ongoing shortage of health care workers is also worsening the situation.
The project found that nearly three million older Americans who need long-term help are not receiving it, in large part because of the high costs of assisted living facilities, nursing homes and aides at home. The United States spends less on long-term care than do most wealthy countries. As part of this project, KFF conducted polling to help shed light on the U.S. public’s awareness of, attitudes about and experiences with long-term care services and supports.
The series tells the stories of some of the many people who must drain their lifetime savings to pay for care as well as the stories of the spouses and children, particularly daughters, who must make tremendous sacrifices to provide care. The first articles appear today on kffhealthnews.org and nytimes.com.
“There’s a reason this topic is a staple of so many family Thanksgiving dinner conversations,” said Jordan Rau, a senior correspondent at KFF Health News. “The kinds of no-win choices facing the people and their families we profile in these articles are ones that can happen to anyone—and too often do.”
“In interviewing many families with aging relatives, I was struck by how woefully unaware people are of how much long-term care can cost,” said Reed Abelson, health care reporter at The New York Times. “Many are amazingly resilient in finding ways to get care for their loved ones, but the lack of available help means people are often making tremendous sacrifices, both financially and emotionally, to provide support.”
The series includes reporting from Jordan Rau, senior correspondent at KFF Health News; Reed Abelson, health care reporter at The New York Times and JoNel Aleccia, formerly at KFF Health News. Holly K. Hacker, KFF Health News’ data editor, and Albert Sun, a graphics editor at The New York Times, conducted data analysis.