Episode 182: Northern New England Is The Oldest Place In The Country; A Senior Home With No Rules

Dorothy Buchanan’s daughter, Beth, serves tea, while Dorothy Murray’s daughter, Bonnie Parsons (third from left), sits with three 100-year-old friends named Dot. (Rebecca Conley / Maine Public)

The U.S. population is getting older. And in northern New England, it’s even more pronounced: Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont are the oldest states in the nation, on average. This week on NEXT, stories of housing for seniors, including an investigation into inadequate care facilities and a window into alternative housing situations that work. Plus, we hear from three women named Dot who grew up together in the same town, turned 100 last year and remain friends.

When Elder Homes Stumble, Frail Vermonters Get Hurt

June, left, and Mary Kelly with a photo of their mother, Marilyn Kelly. Marilyn was living at Our House Too, in Rutland, before she died. (James Buck / For Seven Days & Vermont Public Radio)

As New Englanders age, and it becomes more difficult to cook, clean and shovel snow, people make choices about where they can safely live. Will they move to an assisted living facility or a nursing home –where there’s access to more specialized care– or stay in their own homes?

A four-month investigation into assisted living and residential care homes by Vermont Public Radio and Seven Days, an independent alt-weekly newspaper, revealed troubling patterns of inadequate care in Vermont. At least five residents have died and dozens have faced injuries and problems, including the wrong doses of medication and poor treatment by employees over the last few years. Regulators have struggled to hold facilities accountable.

This story is part of a joint Vermont Public Radio and Seven Days investigative series called, “Worse for Care.” The investigation includes a directory of citations and complaints from 2014-2019 for each residential care home and assisted living residence in Vermont. Since this series was first published late last year, the state has agreed to make some changes to its regulations.

Joslyn House: A Senior Home With No Rules

Joslyn House (Erica Heilman / Rumble Strip)

In Randolph, Vermont, there’s a private home where up to 20 elderly people can live together. Joslyn House is not a nursing home or assisted living, and it’s not licensed by the state. It’s a large house where senior citizens live in private rooms and share communal meals and space.

This story was produced by Erica Heilman, the host of the podcast Rumble Strip. You can find a longer version of the story at the Rumble Strip website.

For These ‘Three Dots,’ 100 Years Of Friendship, Fellowship And Fun

Dorothy Buchanan (from left), Dorothy Murray and Dorothy Kern, all 100, all of Auburn. (Rebecca Conley / Maine Public)

This is the story of three Dots. They have nothing to do with ellipses, new discoveries in the solar system or locations on a map. They are three women named Dorothy, who grew up together in the same hometown, were all born in 1919 and remain friends.

Also on this week’s show:

About NEXT

NEXT is produced at Connecticut Public Radio
Host: Jane Lindholm, Vermont Edition host at Vermont Public Radio
Producer: Morgan Springer
Executive Editor: Vanessa de la Torre
Senior Director: Catie Talarski
Contributors to this episode: Emily Corwin, Erica Heilman, Robbie Feinberg and Susan Sharon.
Music: Todd Merrell, “New England” by Goodnight Blue Moon, To Meet You There” by Anjimile and Kid With A Camera” by Wise Old Moon.

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