Assisted living providers continue to face a serious economic crisis in the wake of the pandemic, according to the results of a new survey. A separate survey finds that Americans agree that more needs to be done to support older adults in the United States.

In a National Center for Assisted Living survey of 122 assisted living communities, 49% said they are operating at a loss, and the same percentage said they have made cuts this year due to increased expenses and lost revenue.

Seventy-four percent of assisted living respondents said they are losing revenue due to fewer people seeking long-term care, 44% said they are losing revenue due to move-outs and 37% said they are losing revenue because of fewer admissions from hospitals.

“Even though COVID cases in long-term care are at historic lows, providers are struggling to recover from the economic crisis the pandemic has induced,” Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of NCAL and sister organization the American Health Care Association. “Too many facilities are operating under shoestring budgets simply because policymakers have failed to dedicate the proper resources and this can have devastating consequences.”

Assisted living providers still are incurring COVID-19 costs from higher wages (73%), additional staffing (48%) and personal protective equipment (47%) despite the availability of vaccines, according to respondents. The association previously laid out proposals in its Care for Our Seniors Act to enable nursing homes to address staffing shortages.

Lawmakers and public officials must prioritize residents and caregivers by sending immediate resources through what remains of the federal Provider Relief Fund, Parkinson said. 

AHCA also surveyed 616 nursing homes. Together, only one-fourth of assisted living communities and nursing homes said they are confident they can last a year or more. See more nursing home results on the McKnight’s Long-Term Care News website and more about all survey results in the McKnight’s Business Daily.

Support for prioritizing older adults

Meanwhile, a new poll commissioned by LeadingAge shows that the overwhelming majority of Americans (86%) surveyed agree that the federal government needs to step up with investment and leadership to support the nation’s older adults.

An online survey of 800 U.S. adults conducted June 15 to 20 by Washington, D.C.-based 3W Insights also shows that 83% of Americans believe that elected officials have failed older adults by ignoring and underfunding aging services.

“American families are in crisis. Millions of us are growing older without access to the affordable care and support we need, and demand is surging for critical services,” LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan said. “Americans agree that for too long our country has ignored and underfunded our aging services systems.”

Many older adults, Sloan said, cannot access the services they need, are stuck on affordable housing waitlists, are skipping meals and medications to pay rent, or are experiencing homelessness. LeadingAge released a needs report in May documenting the growing care affordability and access crisis facing older adults. 

According to the new survey results, 83% of Americans want to see increased public investment in broadband internet to ensure equitable access for older adults, 86% want increased public investment in housing and support for low-income older adults, and 85% agree that now is the time to focus on the nation’s older adults by building a better aging services system.

Almost 20% of respondents identified improving care and services for older adults as one of the top three issues Congress and the administration should focus on in the next few months.

More than half of Americans (54%) agreed with the statement that older adults are not treated well in the United States.

“Americans want action,” Sloan said.