the baffler

About three weeks ago, my extended family extracted Louise from her assisted living facility in Denver, which is owned by a company called Brookdale Senior Living, the largest operator of senior living facilities in the United States. In the frantic move, which was spurred by a sudden burst of Covid-19 deaths in her facility, as well as similar facilities around the country, several things were lost

More than half of Colorado’s Covid deaths have been tied to senior care facilities; I felt, reading, like I was working to fill in the background, the backstory of an unfurling plot. I didn’t yet understand the differences between assisted living, skilled nursing, memory care, independent living, and all of the other deadening terms that the senior living industry very carefully defines—for each has its own profit to make, and each unit can be fitted to another one, like a Lego landscape in which you stand “aging in place,” as the industry calls the very lucrative act of being alive.

On the whole, senior living is in bad shape. Brookdale has suffered net losses since 2005. Before Covid-19 hit, the company was focused on one of those words that means nothing and everything—“streamlining.” They had big plans to “pilot a more integrated healthcare service model,” and to deepen and expand what they call their “healthcare services business, primarily by growing our hospice and home health business lines,” as well as by growing their private duty business—sending care professionals into residences outside of their buildings. While most aspects of hospice care, and much of Brookdale’s “home health” ventures, are reimbursed by government programs, Medicare in particular, “non-covered services,” reads the 10-K, are “paid directly by residents from private pay sources.” In other words, this is health care, and hospice, a la carte. By expanding their services to seniors outside of their communities, to use Brookdale’s own language, they would in time increase move-ins—one of the most important metrics of health for the senior living/housing industry. Everyone, after all, is literally aging in place—the senior living industry just wants that place to be, eventually, in one of their buildings.

Read more in The Baffler.

Written by External Article
Everyone is talking about caregiving, but it can still be difficult to find meaningful information and real stories that go deep. We read (and listen to and watch and look at) the best content about caregiving and bring you a curated selection. Have a great story about caregiving? Use our contact form to submit it to us so we can share it with the community!

Related Articles



When Carolita Johnson became a live-in caretaker for her 87-year-old mother, reimagining this new life as a multi-year writing residency helped her...

Popular categories

After Caregiving
Finding Meaning
Finding Support

Don't see what you're looking for? Search the library

Share your thoughts


Share your thoughts and experiences

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Join our communities

Whenever you want to talk, there’s always someone up in one of our Facebook communities.

These private Facebook groups are a space for support and encouragement — or getting it off your chest.

Join our newsletter

Thoughts on care work from Cori, our director, that hit your inbox each Monday morning (more-or-less).

There are no grand solutions, but there are countless little ways to make our lives better.

Share your insights

Caregivers have wisdom and experience to share. Researchers, product developers, and members of the media are eager to understand the nature of care work and make a difference.

We have a group specifically to connect you so we can bring about change.