Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
Life and death in assisted living-Part 3: A sinking ship

The third installment of ProPublica’s assisted living investigation continues the sad saga of Joan Boice and details the lack of professional care for some Emeritus residents. ProPublica also explores why government agencies have not developed uniform regulations

On Sept. 30, 2008, an employee at the Emerald Hills assisted living facility in Auburn, Calif., made an entry in a company computer log: “pressure ulcer/wound.”
 

Joan, who had spent just 19 days in the facility, had developed the wound on her foot. The fall eight days earlier had hospitalized her and left her with bruises and an abrasion on her right temple. This, though, could be much, much worse.
 

Pressure ulcers — also known as bed sores — can form when a person loses the ability to move about freely. Lying in bed or sitting in a chair for long stretches of time diminishes the blood flow to the skin, causing it to break down and die. A hole grows. If bacteria creep into the wound, the bugs can devour flesh or invade the blood and bones. Pressure ulcers can turn fatal, particularly in older people.
 

Because of the lethal potential of pressure ulcers, the federal government monitors them closely in the nursing home business. In the eyes of experts, the sores are often an indicator of poor care. Attentive caregivers can prevent many pressure sores by making sure that people don’t spend too much time in the same position.
 

“We know that most bed sores are avoidable,” said Kathryn Locatell, a forensic geriatrician who investigates allegations of elder abuse for California Department of Justice. “That is the consensus of experts in the field.”
 

Physicians grade the ulcers on a scale ranging from Stage 1 to Stage 4, with Stage 4 being the most serious. In California, assisted living facilities are allowed to house people with Stage 1 and 2 sores, but only if the resident receives medical treatment from a “skilled professional.” The law bars facilities from renting rooms to people with more severe pressure ulcers.
 

The Emerald Hills worker who wrote up Joan’s pressure ulcer on Sept. 30 understood its significance. The employee noted that a “skilled professional” would be treating the wound.
 

Emerald Hills was supposed to contact Joan’s doctor when she developed the ulcer. But nobody from Emerald Hills called a doctor. No nurse came to salve Joan’s wound. And nobody told Joan’s relatives — her husband, Myron, who lived in the same facility, or her son who lived nearby — about the development.
 

Joan’s short, painful stay at Emerald Hills seemed to be accelerating her decline.
 

Things had been different at the first assisted living facility Joan had lived at, a place called The Palms near Sacramento. There she’d enjoyed a constant stream of activities. “She was doing things every day,” remembered Eric Boice, her son. There were storytelling sessions, games of wheelchair bowling, arts and crafts. Once Joan had smeared finger paint on her palm and pressed it to a piece of paper, creating a keepsake for her son.
 

Adequate staff at The Palms was central to the family’s satisfaction with Joan’s stay. Promises that staff would keep Joan active and engaged — central ambitions in dementia care — were kept. And the perils of prolonged inactivity, like mental decline and dangerous sores, were avoided.
 

By comparison, the unit at Emerald Hills where Joan lived seemed to the family to be poorly staffed and thus static. Staff rarely turned up to organize activities. What few staffers were available managed only to bring Joan down to the TV lounge, where she sat, unengaged. Myron and other family members visited frequently, but otherwise she was marooned.
 

Melissa Gratiot, the Emeritus salesperson who had convinced the Boices to come to Emerald Hills, had given the family a brochure during her sales pitch. The facility’s “entire staff” would strive to produce “meaningful interactions and activities” for Joan.
 

But Gratiot had come to doubt her own marketing pitch, and a lack of staff was part of what colored her regret. She saw few activities going on in the memory care unit and rarely saw her colleagues working to protect Joan from long stays in her wheelchair or bed.
 

“When I would see Joan,” Gratiot said, “she'd be in the TV room, sitting in a chair.”
 

“State Visits, Fines, Resident Upheaval”
 

Just months before Joan arrived at Emerald Hills, Mary Kasuba, a nurse there, told senior management at Emeritus that things needed to change. She took her concerns directly to the top bosses, the executives in Seattle who ran the assisted living empire from a gleaming glass office cube on the Puget Sound.
 

In late 2007, Kasuba wrote a five-page letter and sent it via certified mail to the 10 highest-ranking figures in the company. In the letter, Kasuba warned of “total dysfunction” at Emerald Hills because of “the way the corporation mandates this building to be run.”
 

She pleaded for the bare essentials any assisted living facility needed to operate safely: a key one being an adequate workforce.
 

Alarms bells had been ringing in Kasuba’s head nonstop during her short tenure at Emerald Hills. The first was triggered when she had to cover the overnight shift with another employee. There were roughly 80 seniors living at Emerald Hills at the time.
 

“There were residents that could not necessarily get up and walk to the bathroom on their own,” Kasuba said in an interview.
 

Some of them, she immediately noticed, needed the help of two people — all the workers she had on duty — to get out of bed and shuffle to the toilet. If any sort of emergency had forced Kasuba to evacuate the building, it would have been slow-motion chaos.
 

Typically, Kasuba would grab a nap as dawn broke and be back at Emerald Hills by 10 a.m. The scene wasn’t much better on the day shift. She came to feel the company was exploiting its customers.
 

In her letter to Emeritus officials, she wrote, “Since I came to work with Emerald Hills, there has not been enough staff to cover any part of the day-to-day staffing needs.”
 

Kasuba’s biggest worry was the medication room. The medication technicians, called “med techs” in the industry, were responsible for passing out a mountain of pills each shift. Med techs aren’t nurses or even certified nursing assistants. Typically, they have no formal medical education. At Emerald Hills at that time they made approximately $8 to $10 an hour.
 

One medication technician, Kasuba wrote, “was placed in the med room with maybe a day’s training. She worked in the med room until her stress level became such that she stepped down.”
 

Recordkeeping throughout the facility was haphazard at best. Documents were missing or misfiled. One resident’s chart, according to the nurse, contained a doctor’s evaluation that had been filled out and signed by a family member — not an MD.
 

Again, Kasuba didn’t mince words, calling the medication operation “a sinking ship with no ballast compartments to keep it afloat.”
 

Kasuba ended her letter to the company’s executives with an ultimatum: Let her make major changes at Emerald Hills or she was out.
 

“Corporate can hire someone else and the cycle of dysfunction will begin again,” she wrote. “State visits, fines, resident upheaval, staff turnover.”
 

Emeritus replaced Kasuba. The company says it dealt with the concerns she raised about Emerald Hills. Many of those who remained at Emerald Hills tell a different story.
 

A couple of years later, Susan Rotella got a taste of the same problems, but on a much grander scale. In November 2009, Emeritus tapped Rotella, who had made her career in assisted living, to manage the company’s California division. It was a big job. Emeritus agreed to pay her $210,000 per year, plus bonuses and stock options. She’d be part of a three-person executive team overseeing 45 facilities.
 

Rotella testified under oath that as she traveled around the state meeting Emeritus employees she heard one thing over and over: The facilities needed more staff.
 

The division, however, wasn’t posting the kind of financial numbers Emeritus wanted to see.
 

“All eyes were on California because we were keeping the stock price down,” she said. “As California went, so went Emeritus.”
 

One man didn’t bother to sugarcoat his feelings about the California division, Rotella said.
As she tells it, shortly after signing on with Emeritus, she was welcomed aboard by company founder Daniel Baty.
 

Baty, she recalled, said, “Ah, so you’re the one who is going to run the shithole.”
 

He denies making the statement.
 

Rotella’s superiors directed her to slash labor costs by 10 percent across the board, she said. Facility directors “were constantly being told to cut labor expense, cut labor, cut labor, cut labor,” she added.
 

Emeritus said Rotella’s claims were false. “Unfortunately, it is another accusation without any documentation, evidence, or even another person present to verify the conversation. Emeritus would not enact across-the-board labor cuts at the expense of our residents’ care needs,” the company said in a statement.
 

The assisted living industry is overseen in a very different manner from its closest cousin, the nursing home business. Nursing homes are governed by a complex grid of federal and state regulations. The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services collect a vast array of data from nursing homes — drug prescribing patterns, staffing levels, patients who’ve had falls, etc. — and make much of it available to the public through a website called Nursing Home Compare. And an array of information on fines and inspections can be found on the easier-to-use website Nursing Home Inspect. States set minimum staffing requirements for nursing homes.
 

The early advocates of the assisted living movement chafed at many of these regulatory dictates. They wanted flexibility, the ability to innovate. They wanted to create spaces that were more home, less hospital. Today, two decades on, there are still no federal standards and leaders of this growing business sector continue to push back against anything more than modest government oversight.
 

Their success at staving off uniform regulation from state to state means Emeritus’s hundreds of facilities operate under wildly varying regulations and offer different services. From Miami to Dallas to Des Moines, there isn’t even an agreed-upon definition of assisted living.
 

“We say in this business if you’ve seen one assisted living community, you’ve seen one assisted living community,” said Rick Grimes, president of the Assisted Living Federation of America, a trade group.
 

The dearth of hard and fast rules gives executives and managers at assisted living companies wide latitude in deciding how many workers should be clocking in on a given shift. Many states require assisted living facilities to keep “sufficient” staff on duty at all times, but don’t define what that means.
 

The increasing frailty of the population in assisted living makes adequate staffing critical to quality of care, said Catherine Hawes, a Texas A&M professor and an expert on the assisted living industry. According to a 2010 national survey, more than 50 percent of assisted living residents need help dressing and bathing and 42 percent have some form of dementia.
 

Publicly traded companies like Emeritus are under substantial pressure to hit their financial goals — each quarterly performance is scrutinized and failing to meet expectations can damage the company’s value.
 

To hit their goals, then, Emeritus tightly manages its workforce. “Tightly manages” often means reducing staff, slashing wages and curtailing benefits.
 

Chief executive Granger Cobb addressed the issue with investors and market analysts as recently as last year.
 

“We're feeling good about the cost structure,” he said. “I think we’ve got a very good control on the — our biggest expense, which is labor. We’re managing it very closely.”
 

Emeritus had just cut its overhead by 8.2 percent, largely by cutting pay and benefits.
 

The company asserts that all of its facilities are adequately staffed, and that it would never compromise care by irresponsibly reducing staff.
 

One former Emeritus executive, who supervised nurses in multiple states for a period of years, thought the company kept its staffing levels dangerously low as a matter of policy.
 

“Is that unique to Emeritus? I would say it’s ubiquitous to the entire assisted living industry,” said the executive. “We need to take a huge step back and look at this whole industry.”
 

Lack of proper supervision at Emeritus facilities appears to have played a central role in several cases in which residents suffered avoidable and sometimes catastrophic harm.
 

On Christmas Day 2004, Mabel Austin froze to death in front of an Emeritus facility in Texas. The lone staffer on duty in the memory care unit didn’t realize that Austin, 91 years old and suffering from Alzheimer’s, had walked out of the building. Emeritus would not comment on this case.
 

It took about 12 hours for staffers at an Emeritus facility in Iowa to call an ambulance after 84-year-old Paulyne Stevens took a fall in her bedroom. An employee at the facility put Stevens back in her bed, but did not contact any medical professionals. When doctors finally examined Stevens they found she had six broken ribs and a deflated lung. Investigators found workers at the facility didn’t have legally required training. Emeritus admits the incident was mishandled, and has settled a lawsuit with the family.
 

June Hassler, 86, died in a locked bathroom at an Emeritus facility in Pennsylvania. It took employees 36 hours to notice. The director of the facility said the staff thought Hassler was visiting family. Two years earlier, 84-year-old Eleanor Hodges died in the same facility after being attacked by a male resident with a history of aggressive behavior. The state found that Emeritus had failed “to provide proper supervision” of the man. Emeritus told the state it would act to correct the problems that led to Hodges’s death. The families of both women have sued Emeritus.
 

Emeritus portrays incidents such as these as isolated events and says state authorities are citing the company less and less frequently for violations. “If you look at our regulatory history versus others in the industry we probably fare pretty well,” Cobb said.
 

There are no national statistics on regulatory violations in assisted living. But ProPublica and Frontline obtained and analyzed data from California, the state with the most assisted living facilities. The data – compiled by the state ombudsman program, which investigates allegations of abuse and misconduct – shows that between 2010 and 2012, Emeritus had more verified complaints per bed than any of its major competitors. In two of those years, the company had more substantiated neglect complaints than the other big chains, again on a per bed basis.
 

Some companies have devised their own systems for calculating how many people should be on duty on any given shift. Though Emeritus collects and parses a vast array of data, much of it focused on sales and profitability, it has chosen not to create a staffing ratio or formula.
 

This surprised Rotella, the California executive. She had previously worked at another major chain called Sunrise Senior Living, which had used a formula based on the health needs of each resident.
 

Rotella said she brought the issue up at a meeting with the man in charge of quality control for the entire Emeritus empire, a nurse named Budgie Amparo.
 

“He stood up and he was quite agitated. And he said, ‘We will never have staffing ratios at Emeritus,’” Rotella recalled. Amparo said that if somebody got hurt or killed in an Emeritus facility, a written ratio or formula could be a liability, according to Rotella. If it turned out the company wasn’t following its own staffing protocol, the plaintiff lawyers would jump all over them.
 

“I don’t remember that,” Amparo said. In a statement, Emeritus said “we do not have a staffing formula” because such a formula “would not serve our residents’ best interests.”
 

Emeritus ousted Rotella shortly after her conversation with Amparo. It was March 2010 and she had been on the job for three months. Today she works as a consultant to assisted living firms and is suing Emeritus for wrongful termination. Company leaders, Rotella said, viewed her as a “troublemaker.”
 

When Joan Boice took up residence at Emerald Hills in the autumn of 2008, the lack of staff was evident.
 

The facility didn’t assign any workers to the memory care unit on five nights, according to company time sheets.
 

Emeritus says the employees filled every shift in the memory care unit; they just didn’t keep accurate records of their labor.
 

Workers in the building felt overwhelmed and bitter. As discontent mounted, the facility director ordered employees not to share their complaints with the public.
 

“They do not need to know you are tired,” the director wrote in a memo. “They are NOT to hear we are short staffed.”
 

Then Emeritus decided to shrink the payroll even further. The facility reduced the number of med techs. That meant there would only be one such employee on duty during the facility’s busiest shifts.
 

Jenny Hitt was one of the med techs affected by the downsizing. Hitt had to keep track of “thousands” of pills coming into the building from a host of different pharmacies. Some residents were taking “15 different prescriptions” and needed to receive pills up to six times per day. Hitt, who didn’t complete high school and had no medical education, said she was so busy that she sometimes had to “run down the hallways” to get all of her rounds done.
 

The company, she said, often assigned her to double shifts and once kept her on duty for 24 hours straight.
 

After Hitt made multiple calls to the company’s “Ethics First” hotline — a supposedly anonymous in-house reporting tool — Emeritus fired her. Her boss told her she had made a medication mistake. She says she was fired because she was calling attention to the building’s failings.
 

Out of a job, Hitt said she felt only relief. She was weary of worrying that she might kill someone.
 

Language Had Left Her
 

In Room 101, Joan’s room, the ulcer on her foot worsened. One day slid into the next. An Emeritus employee faxed a message to Joan’s physician: Joan “seems to be experiencing more frequent and intense pain…She has trouble putting weight on her right foot…Please advise.”
 

It was Oct. 14 — a full two weeks after the Emeritus worker had first noted the wound in her records.
 

The physician promptly faxed back instructions: Bring her in for X-rays of her right foot and ankle. But nobody at Emerald Hills told the family about the doctor’s order.
 

It would be three more weeks before the facility finally informed the Boice family about Joan’s damaged foot. An Emeritus worker phoned Kathleen Boice, Joan’s daughter-in-law, who lived nearby, on Nov. 3. Blood, the employee said, was seeping through Joan’s sock.
 

Eric Boice took his mother to the doctor on Nov. 4. The doctor’s notes show that the physician thought the wound might have been an ulcerated bunion; the physician, Tayyiba Awan, wondered whether Joan had been lying on her side for long periods of time. The wound had scabbed over and seemed to be healing. Awan did not examine the rest of Joan’s body for sores.
 

But Joan had other issues, the doctor noted. She’d lost much of her ability to move the right side of her body. The doctor wondered whether she had suffered a series of minor strokes. And so she ordered physical therapists to visit Joan at Emerald Hills to try and improve her mobility.
 

Back at Emerald Hills, Myron came to Joan’s room frequently, often bringing snacks. Eric Boice would visit his mother one day; the next, Kathleen would visit. They divided the labor, and the heartache.
 

Over the weeks, Kathleen came to think something was “weird.” But she couldn’t figure out what was going on with Joan. And Joan couldn’t say what was wrong. Language had left her.

“You know, most of the time she was in a bed. Blanket sheets up on her,” Eric recalled. “You know, I sat with my mom, I held her hand and I spoke to her.”
 

He told her what the grandkids were doing. He’d inform her if his son had played a baseball game the day before.
 

Disease had transformed his mother. It had spun their roles around. But in Room 101, Eric couldn’t always bring himself to treat his mother like a child. He just never felt comfortable asking her to undress so he could examine her.
 

If Eric had seen her skin he might have understood what was going on. There wasn’t just a single wound. The pressure ulcers were marching across her body.
 

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Courtesy: ProPublica.org

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Indulgent parents and unconcerned children!

Parents want to give their children the best of everything especially education. Children, on the other hand, want everything without pausing to think what sacrifices their parents have to make to give them all that they desire!

In an induction program for fresh batch of MBA students I asked them if they had talked about the cost of this course for two years. A day student would need roughly Rs4 lakh including fees; while a hostelite would end up spending at least Rs6 lakh in a city like Pune.
Most responded by saying that they had not discussed this with parents at all; some said they had-the parents had assured them that they have the money to finance them. I then asked them how many of them had taken an education loan to cover the fees-the response was huge. The very few, who had worked in the past, were going to pay for the course from their own savings!
 

Most students have an attitude that it is their parents’ responsibility to pay for their higher studies, which is much more expensive than graduation. Fresh engineers, whose parents have already spent over a lakh per year as engineering fees, come to business schools instead of joining jobs and spending on their post graduation on their own.
 

I asked them why they had not worked after engineering and earned and saved and then join MBA. I did not get any specific answer. While I got a number of strange replies including, “I did not actually like engineering but somehow completed it!” and “I did not get campus placement so decided to pursue MBA!” or “I want to finish my education before taking a job”.
 

This shows complete lack of concern for parents and I am sure parents of such children must have sacrificed a lot for paying for their children’s education. The fault doesn’t lie completely with children- parents too are to be blamed. They probably feel they do all this to fulfill the aspirations of their children. It is important for parents to make their children realize the amount of hardships they have undergone to educate them. Many spend their retirement funds and are left without enough money for a comfortably post retirement period. After spending all the money and energy of building children’s lives, one hears horror stories of how children refuse to look after the same parents later on! Parents must clearly tell their children the amount they can afford to spend on education, marriage and career building. They must ask the children to partially finance their education by taking education loan that they must repay once they start earning!!
 

Today, education loans are available more easily than before. I have observed that children from well to do families who get into so called ‘prestigious colleges’ take education loans! This could be because the IT returns filed by their parents do not show the real income and hence taking a loan is a camouflage! Also, some do this to get tax breaks for these loans.

I have come across two cases of girls who took loans because they wanted to study abroad and promised their parents and they would repay loans on their own. It is a matter of pride for the parents that both these girls are actually doing this. We need to have more with this spirit.
 

The psychology of parents works this way- they think they do not want their children to suffer the way they did as kids. They aim at providing everything to their children that they lacked in their own childhood days. To an extent this is fine but parents should realize that they cannot indulge in spending money when you actually do not have it! The fact is that today’s youngsters are demanding and getting much more than the previous generation and still they are unhappy and cribbing all the time!!
 

It is high time the parents discussed money matters frankly with their children. My experience says that children understand even at a young age, if explained properly. My son, when 5-6 years old, once asked me why we did not have a VCR at our home. I honestly told him that I cannot afford it and that I have no money to buy one! He said get the money from the bank. I then explained to him-one has to first put money in the bank and then only, one can withdraw it. I was glad that he understood and never mentioned the VCR again! This is what convinced me that children can understand.
 

The children we are talking about here are much older and it is a shame that they show no concern about money but expect it as a right.
 

I urge parents and children to please wake up and look at reality. As things stand and as they are likely to pan out in the next few years, it is clear that even after spending so much money, getting a well-paying job isn’t guaranteed-the pay back is going to be long drawn. You must first find out if you can afford the education you plan to give to your children and the return that you expect from this investment. Learn to say no when you know you cannot afford something that your children want and understand that there is nothing wrong in asking your children to either self finance their higher education or make them take a loan for partial expenses-you will still finance food, travel, phone, internet and other expenses!
 

Do not give a damn to what people will say! You should be proud of your children for having the decency to self-finance their education or taking a loan and the responsibility of repaying it! At least you won’t be left penniless for days when these very children show you the door.
 

 (Prof Anil Agashe teaches at Symbiosis and other management schools in Pune).

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COMMENTS

Anil Agashe

4 years ago

Here is an interesting feed back from my student Pranali
:sir to tell u the truth education loans r not really easily available.. i had applied for it.. but it was not approved saying the amount is too less.. so in the end i had to borrow money from my parents!
sir the bank which refused my loan application was none other than SBI..
i went b4 mba admission for a pre approvved loan.. they said come after admission.. when i went after admission they said u should have pre approved it
then they said we'll do something.. give all ur docs
i personally went and submitted the file to their Mumbai HO... after 2 months they said we cant process this loan as the amt is too low

REPLY

S BHASKARA NARAYANA

In Reply to Anil Agashe 4 years ago

I too agree with u. Wayback 15 years ago, my cousin, who is Dy. Director rank scientist, was denied Education loan to his daughter by SBI, but was sanctioned by Andhra Bank.

similarly, my uncle's son was denied loan then by SBI, on the plea that the parent's income will not service the interest of the loan.

All these abberations eminate from the operating Officer's whims and fancies but not following the rule book.

Anil Agashe

In Reply to S BHASKARA NARAYANA 4 years ago

Thanks for sharing this information. And you are right about whims and fancies of some officer who is not fit to be one!

Deepak Sholapurkar

4 years ago

If parents are expected to do every thing and if they do every thing what the children will do and learn?
I am talking not only about the education but in all the aspects of life.

Do not spoon feed the children, let them learn on there own. let them experience the life.
Without learning how to live the life they will be easy targets in the hostile market.

Nihar Mody

4 years ago

This one sentence tells you all:The psychology of parents works this way- they think they do not want their children to suffer the way they did as kids.

Nihar Mody

4 years ago

Baghban was not a movie..It is a real life scenario

Abhijit Gosavi

4 years ago

My parents didn't have to spend much on my education or that of my siblings (of course, every parent has to spend "some" money on the child's education), but me and my siblings have ensured that our parents are comfy in their retirement (they even travel abroad for pleasure and have seen places I haven't visited). It really depends on how you raise your children; we were always taught to value money and be grateful to those who toiled for us!

S Santhanam

4 years ago

I would like to disagree with the author on the following observations:
1. Author: After spending all the money and energy of building children’s lives, one hears horror stories of how children refuse to look after the same parents later on!
In the absence of any emprical evidence it is incorrect to pass value judgments on the behaviour of children taking care of their parents in their old age. There are instances where children who could not be helped by parents did their studies well and neglected parents in their old age as they felt that their parents failed to take care of them during their studies.
2. Author: I have observed that children from well to do families who get into so called ‘prestigious colleges’ take education loans! This could be because the IT returns filed by their parents do not show the real income and hence taking a loan is a camouflage!
It is again a sweeping statement without any basis. Such observations from a teacher (Prof is also a teacher) is shocking and these are uncalled for.

REPLY

Anil Agashe

In Reply to S Santhanam 4 years ago

I have made both the statements from my experience. I have seen parents being neglected. The loan thing is also from my interactions with my students.

R Balakrishnan

4 years ago

Our generation ( 50's born)of middle class grew up in penury and some of us who made it ok in life want our children to be not wanting. At the same time, we also owe it to them to impart values and teach them the importance of money. Let them handle finances of the house in a budget. Tell them to keep accounts. And tell them to fit their needs within our means. The bigger issue is that today, the younger gen may not want to be burdened with looking after parents. So it is also important to secure ourselves financially. A conflict between emotions and practicality. Most cases, emotion wins and the parents suffer.
The worst thing for us is to become a burden on gen next. And living with them, will make both unhappy. It is a dilemma. Lucky are those that can provide for the children and for themselves.

REPLY

Anil Agashe

In Reply to R Balakrishnan 4 years ago

Absolutely Bala. We have to be financially independent of children and so should they be. Physically as we grow older we may have to dependent on them. That is not in our hands.

jaykayess

4 years ago

I beg to totally disagree with the fundamental thrust of Prof. Agashe's arguments. Many of these are blatant generalizations, based on a few stray cases he may have observed first hand. The harsh reality is that today, a basic degree (B.Com, B.A., B.Sc, and yes, even B.E.) is absolutely useless. I say this from first hand experience of my own daughter who just graduated with a B.Com, and all her batchmates.

The reason for this is complex - a combination of increasing population, current state of the job market, manifold rise in number of colleges and universities handing out degrees of varying quality, etc. This compels students to go for "higher" education. Unfortunately, what used to be termed as "higher" education a few years ago is no longer so high. An MBA is almost an entry level for a job in a reputed company.

The problem is compounded by the proliferation of MBA colleges - again of varying degrees of quality and reputation - who charge annual fees of several lakhs. Management education has become a BIG business. Surely Prof. Agashe knows exactly what I mean and he certainly knows more about it than me - after all, he is IN this business and a beneficiary of it!

So for a parent, especially in the segment described by Prof. Agashe (upper middle class), education is by far the no. 1 priority, and NO parent will view spending on education as an indulgence. Even though it has been commoditized somewhat, it is the still an asset that has long term value.

In our Indian culture, parents do NOT look for a RETURN on money spent on their kids' education. Even though the joint family is dying out, the concept of family wealth is alive and kicking. So spending on education is not viewed as investment; rather, it is viewed as insurance.

REPLY

Anil Agashe

In Reply to jaykayess 4 years ago

I completely agree that a degree is almost useless. But that should not be the case with Engineering degrees. But we send our children to wrong colleges it will happen.
MBA education is big business no doubt about that! But we don't benefit from it really. The remuneration for Visiting Faculties like me does not change for years and that is a fact. Some of these institutes spend less than 5% of their revenue on remuneration to faculty! Plethora of Management Institutes has brought down quality and this can be seen in number of vacant seats both in management and engineering. And let me tell you all MBAs are not worth the salaries they get. Students are not here for knowledge but only for a piece of paper.

Sucheta Dalal

In Reply to jaykayess 4 years ago

Greetings. Well, what can one say, life is about contradictory views. As I said, our survey, which is the latest cover story of Moneylife shows that there are plenty of parents who think like you. So there is nothing to disagree about -- you have a view, others have a different view.
Also, it remains to be seen what happens to these parents if they dont have enough savings for their retirement. We have seen too many elders around us in their 60s and 70s who are lonely and alone and often without enough funds.
Companies who offer Reverse Mortgage products will also tell you that many children selfishly taunt parents who want spending money after 60 and want them to live a frugal, joyless existence so that their inheritance (flat/house) is intact without a loan burden!

Lets agree that we have different views on the subject!

jaykayess

In Reply to Sucheta Dalal 4 years ago

Yes, there will always be diversity of opinion, which is good, but I guess my disagreement was primarily with the somewhat judgmental tone taken by Prof. Agashe, suggesting that it is wrong for parents to want to pay for their kids education, without raising the question of whether or not they can even afford it.

Anil Agashe

In Reply to jaykayess 4 years ago

My point is make your children aware of how you are funding their education. Taking loan is asking them to take part of the financing responsibility. I have no problem if someone says I can afford it so I will do it. I hope they have enough money to live comfortably after retirement.

raj

4 years ago

Good article. Even at the school level today parents are willing to spend a lot for admissions and other yearly expenses including foreign vacations. No wonder kids grow up with expectations.

Sucheta Dalal

4 years ago

In our survey on parenting costs, I was shocked to find that many parents think it is their duty to educate children and also "settle" them in life -- for girls this means an education and a big fat wedding, complete with streedhan/dowry. For boys, it is even more - get them settled in business and a home - either the nice big one shared with parents or a separate one.

Thanks to such mollycoddling, we have seen "children" in their mid-40s with kids of their own, happily living off their parents pensions, in the house that pappa acquired and making no attempt to apply themselves to a job or career.

REPLY

jaykayess

In Reply to Sucheta Dalal 4 years ago

Sucheta, I don't find it at all shocking. Fundamental Indian values haven't changed that much despite all the westernization we see around us. Personally, I believe it is definitely the duty of the parents to educate their children (including so-called "higher" education like an MBA). As for weddings, streedhan, and houses, I believe that it should NOT be done merely due to social pressure. But if a parent can truly afford it, who are we to question how they spend their money?

Anil Agashe

In Reply to Sucheta Dalal 4 years ago

Absolutely true. What worries me is that this trend is very strong in the so called educated middle class families as well. I have heard comments like why should the children be made to buy their house with their money. We have done all that. They only need to earn to live their own life! We are going to leave them with a lot of assets! Well to do parents are the biggest de-motivation for today's youngsters!

Abhijit Gosavi

In Reply to Anil Agashe 4 years ago

Wow, I'm amazed to read this! In our times (I'm in early 40s), parents saw us through college (undergraduate degree), and that was it! After that, we were on our own, and that's how it should be. Even our grand-parents subscribed to this view, and so I'm not sure why parents have changed now! Are their social reasons for these changes?

BCCI’s probe panel for IPL spot-fixing illegal, says Bombay High Court

Just two days back, the probe panel has given a clean chit to Srinivasan, Gurunath Meiyappan, as well as Raj Kundra of Rajasthan Royals in the spot-fixing and betting charges in the IPL cricket tournament

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday held the two-member probe panel set up by it to look into spot-fixing and betting charges in the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament as illegal and unconstitutional. This is supposed to a severe blow to Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), and its president-in-exile N Srinivasan.

 

Just two days back, the probe panel in its report gave a clean chit to Srinivasan, his son-in-law and owner of Chennai Super Kings team Gurunath Meiyappan, as well as Raj Kundra, owner of Rajasthan Royals and husband of actor Shilpa Shetty.

 

A Division Bench of Justices SJ Vazifdar and MS Sonak while allowing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the Cricket Association of Bihar and its secretary Aditya Verma, said the constitution of the probe panel was 'illegal and unconstitutional'.

 

The PIL challenged the constitution of the two-member commission, set up by the BCCI and IPL Governing Council to probe allegations of betting and spot fixing.

 

The petition alleged blatant bias by former BCCI President Srinivasan in the light of mounting allegations against himself and in constituting the probe panel as he is the vice-chairman and managing director of India Cements Ltd, which owns the IPL team — Chennai Super Kings.

 

The PIL urged the court to direct BCCI to recall its order constituting the probe panel and instead the court shall form a panel of retired judges as it may deem fit to hold inquiry against Meiyappan, India Cements Ltd and Jaipur IPL Cricket Pvt Ltd with regard to their involvement in spot-fixing and betting.

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