Assisted Living Industry Pioneers Profiled in New Documentary

Pioneers who made the assisted living industry in America a reality are profiled in a new documentary, “Assisted Living America.”  The film’s preview made its debut in June at the Assisted Living Federation of America Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. The full-length feature is in production, but the producers are seeking funds and donations to complete the work. assisted living documentary

The documentary will take viewers from the birth of the assisted living industry in America in the 1980’s through the model that is today’s assisted living industry. In the 1980’s, Dr. Karen Brown Wilson and her husband, Dr. Michael DeSahne, had a vision for a new type of long-term care for low to moderate-income individuals. Out of this vision Rackleff Place was born, which was the first small facility in the state of Oregon to be licensed as assisted living, according to Wilson in an interview for the film.

Dr. Wilson and Dr. DeSahne are both gerontologists, and their idea was inspired by her mother, who had a desire to live a normal life despite requiring some assistance with activities of daily living. At that time, the only way an individual could receive assistance with care through the federal government was through nursing homes, which are designed to care for the seriously and chronically ill who require significant nursing support. For seniors who needed a little assistance but could primarily care for themselves, they were limited to paying privately, which can be difficult for families in the low to moderate income range.

Around the same time, Paul Klaassen and his wife Terry were working on a plan to provide a different type of care in a different environment than what was currently available in nursing home facilities. Out of the Klaassen’s quest, Sunrise Senior Living was born, which today is one of the largest assisted living providers in the United States.

To learn more about the film, how you can offer support, or to view the trailer, visit

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