As life expectancy in the U.S. continues to increase and millions of Baby Boomers move toward old age, long-term care for the elderly and disabled will soon become an even more important issue than it is now. But as John Oliver pointed out on Sunday’s episode of “Last Week Tonight,” America’s attitude toward addressing inadequacies in the long-term care system has long been “at best indifference, and, at worst, abuse and neglect.”
In the 22-minute segment, Oliver laid out a litany of statistics about the shortcuts for-profit facilities take when administering care. He also highlighted a few especially shocking anecdotes, like a resident who was eaten by an alligator or another who froze to death on Christmas, both at understaffed and neglectful facilities.
A Massachusetts nursing home showed up early in Oliver’s evisceration as well, with the host playing a news clip about a woman living at the Braintree Manor HealthCare senior living facility who cried for help for hours from her bed to no avail, before being forced to call local police.
“We contacted that facility, which chose not to address its staffing levels back then in its response to us, instead insisting that the safety of its residents is of utmost importance,” Oliver said. “But that is pretty f****** hard to believe when they’re calling the police for help.”
Oliver laid out a couple of beginning solutions for the issues, including reducing the total profit that companies can make by billing the government. But according to the host, the larger issue is simply for the government and the general public to stop neglecting the elderly and disabled and to recognize their long-term wellbeing as an essential issue.
“It all starts with showing that we give a s*** what happens to the elders and people with disabilities in this country,” Oliver said. “Right now, evidence points to the fact we absolutely don’t and all the other problems are stemming from that. The longer we continue to ignore, the worse it’s going to get.”
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