Morgan Spurlock: Inside ManJoin us for Season 3 in 2015
July 23rd, 2013
06:01 PM ET

Spurlock on grandmother: 'She's a machine'

This week on "Inside Man," Morgan Spurlock looks into the physical and financial challenges aging Americans face.

In this clip, Spurlock explains that over 70% of Americans 65 and over will need long-term care at some point. Here, he cares for his 91-year-old grandmother, Tootie.

Filed under: Elder Care
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. excelcare01

    I am glad that I had the chance to learn about her. Please continue the wonderful work that you've been doing.

    September 27, 2013 at 3:28 am | Reply
  2. arabella

    Please, please repeat this program on Eldercare and your Grandmother or make it available on the internet. I just ran across this accidentally, did not see the program.

    August 21, 2013 at 9:14 pm | Reply
  3. Eric Adams

    I was moved to tears watching the story about your grandmother. I too just lost my grandma. She was 90 and a very independent women. I have been a photojournalist for more than 20 years and now I teach it at the high school level. Your story-telling style is inspirational. Thank you for sharing your personal stories.

    August 14, 2013 at 11:55 pm | Reply
  4. Robert C

    The Elderly Care episode was very enlightening.

    As a 35 year old male from Gen-Y, with outrageous student loan debt, no savings, and currently unemployed with dwindling opportunities to work (I have multiple college degrees) , I now understand that myself and most of Generation Y (who probably won't be receiving social security) we will all be old, homeless and dying in the street.

    I am no longer proud to be American. This country is an absolute disgrace on the face track to a third world country.

    August 12, 2013 at 7:40 pm | Reply
    • gloria

      Robert, I'm sorry that you're having a difficult time right now. However, as an elder who has been at your point in life, I've learned that "blame" is an excuse for not accepting the responsibility for our own happiness. If you're unhappy, you're responsible for changing that...not some thing or somebody else. America may not be perfect, but there's no other place in the world with as much opportunity for success and happiness. Sitting and complaining that you don't have what you want isn't a recipe for happiness. Someone once told me, "The Lord can't steer a stalled car." In other words, keep actively involved in finding your happiness, and doors will open for you. I wish you well.

      August 13, 2013 at 4:36 pm | Reply
  5. Mary Goff

    I loved, loved the story about Tootie! Thank you for sharing her and your facts regarding aging care in this country. I cried, when Tootie passed, I felt like my granny was alot like Tootie and you brought Tootie into so many hearts last Sunday. Great Show...

    August 7, 2013 at 4:28 pm | Reply
  6. Sharon Hulley

    I just watched the show about your Grandmother Tootie. Difficult to watch but so necessary. In April, my grandmother (age 94) fell in her home. Luckily no broken bones or trauma but I realized that it probably wasn't safe for her to be living on her own any longer. The closest relative is 1.5 hours away. I moved in with her and then held her hand as she and I made the decision that it was time for her to move into a retirement facility. Luckily we had already scouted out locations a few years prior so we knew what was out there. As much as she doesn't love living in her new 'digs" she is coming to terms with it. She is at Cedarvale Lodge in Keswick Ontario Canada. She is in the independant living section which is an apartment with kitchenette but she goes down to main dining hall for meals. As she ages she will be able to move into the wing that is Assisted living and then there is also another wing for dementia/alzheimers patients. When the time comes and if there aren't any rooms in the Assisted Living wing, they will bring in extra services to her existing suite so she won't have to go through the trauma of moving again. We are grateful that there is this facility in her community. She really wanted to stay in the area where she has lived for the past 30 years. The move was stressful for all but I now how piece of mind knowing that there is staff on hand who will keep an eye out for her. Aging is not for wimps. Words to live by. Thank you for sharing your amazing grandmother with us.

    August 4, 2013 at 4:36 pm | Reply
  7. Lynnette

    Outstanding program! Had me hooked from the start. I happened upon it last night on CNN. It was well done..... Truly our society as a whole needs to continue to work on the care of our elderly population. I think there are many things we do right, but there is so much more we need to do IF we want the care in our "golden years."

    I could relate to the family in the show as my mother passed away from cancer in a short period of time....but she went into a nursing home during the final month as this was her choice. She did not want to move in with one of us even though we offered. That's the type of wonderful woman she was......she was a Tootie. :) On the other hand, this past year, we just moved my mother-in-law into a retirement community......pretty much kicking and screaming all the way. She is NOT a warm fuzzy woman and has not embraced getting older. The place she is living is a for-profit community where she has her own apartment but gets housekeeping and meals. It's a beautiful place but of course she still is not happy. I think of all the folks who would love to be able to afford a place like this and it makes me crazy!! She is the type of person that nothing makes her happy. we are looking at taking care of our aging population, I still think family has to be the "first line of defense" like Tootie's family was.....they have to be the social workers, the care givers, the "parent" in helping their loved one in making decisions as they become less and less able to live on their own. It's what is available for care that becomes the issue. Not enough home care services, not enough skilled beds in communities where people have lived all their lives. This is what needs to be addressed...... As important in all of this is the need for support of the families who are doing the work as well. As I used to tell's not the physical stuff you do for your loved one that will get to you, it's the emotional toll caring and helping your loved one that will be the most difficult to handle. And it's so true!!

    August 4, 2013 at 3:53 pm | Reply
  8. Gigi

    Mr. Spurlock, please accept my condolences on the loss of your lovely grandmother. She was such a delightful person on the show, can only imagine the joy you shared throughout your life with her.

    I am the caregiver for my mother with vascular dementia and I cried all the way through the show. What I am facing now is terrifying and, even though I knew, it was still a shock to hear of the $8000/month bill from the care facility. I am trying to keep mom at home as long as possible, but that's also expensive at $16/hour for caregivers. My father died 31 years ago and mom was forced to get a job after being a stay at home mom and wife. She didn't make much and now lives off her SS benefits. The meds were over $1200/month (more than her SS check) and we were fortunate to be able to get help from Medicaid or I don't know what we would do.

    I hope CNN continues to air this show (I saw it on 8/3) so others can see it. And for those who think "this can never happen to my family"...that's what I thought too. As my 83 year old aunt said while she was taking care of her Alzheimer's patient husband...I thought these were supposed to be our golden years.

    August 4, 2013 at 1:35 pm | Reply
  9. Marie

    Thank you for sharing such a personal story. Your grandmother Tootie was such a daring woman. I watched it tonight wishing my family could see it. I'm 55, all the adults in my childhood are still with us – all living independently in their own homes. My parents – dad being the oldest at 91, mom at 85... his sister, 90, his other sister 84. All of them remarkably doing well, thriving, in some cases. Only my aunts who are both childless will talk about the "what if's" and what plans should be considered and done should they not be able to take care of themselves. My father refuses such talk as he's "perfectly fine." Doing Google searches I could not find a listing of the full episode to view on a computer, as I want to link it to my dad and brother in an Email. I will go to your Inside Man facebook page next to learn more about your work. Thank you again and God Bless your family.

    So. CA.

    August 4, 2013 at 3:46 am | Reply
  10. TMK

    Watched your loving episode today about your grandmother at the age of 91 living independently in her own home even making her own breakfast, dinner for the film crew, and pies to the final decline when she was admitted to the hospital and then to the "rehabilitation center" for physical therapy, as the family told her, not wanting Tootie to know she was not returning home. Then there was the medical emergency during bathing and not long after that, her appointment with death was realized. Such loving family, so much support, and able to live so long into her elderly years at home. The neighbor, too, and all of the friends were supportive. She was blessed as were you and your entire family.

    Thank you for highlighting your intimate family story of your grandmother. It's the story my family is living now and I related to you on a personal level as I am one of my 90 year old grandmother’s grandchildren. My uncle, who was on long term disability, was her primary caregiver living in-home with her. He had not even yet moved in properly and still had his belongings in a nearby storage facility. In mid-June, he passed away. He had been my grandmother’s primary caregiver living in home with her even if he, himself, needed caregiving at times due to his own medical conditions. He delayed going to the hospital in the end and was still arranging her care while admitted but died three days later. I was there at the house when the ambulance took him away. That evening was my first introduction to the reality of my grandmother’s needs as I and my family were left alone at the house that evening – groceries needed to be bought; dinner made; dishes done; medications administered; and helping my grandmother get ready to go to bed and making sure she was safely in bed sleeping. I had glimpses into my grandmother’s declining health and cognitive abilities through the past few years, especially at last Thanksgiving when it was a herculean effort for my uncle and grandmother to come to our house for dinner. They barely made it driving, sitting down for dinner, and getting back into the car to go home. At Easter, we brought dinner to them at their house. In the week before my uncle went into the hospital, he called and asked me to do some errands – buy Depends, pick up her prescription at the pharmacy, and make dinner for the two of them. Now more than a month later, I find myself in your family’s story, only it is my family, whereby I and my cousins and an uncle are taking turns caregiving for our grandmother piecing together the help she needs with in-home caregiving during the day paid with a combination of social security and money from family augmented with caregiving from family to cover the evenings and weekends.

    I feel your family story is like so many of our families’ stories in America. It’s my family’s turn now and I am you and my grandmother is Tootie. And although I know there is more story to write for my grandmother, taking each day one day at a time, I hope that in the end that we handle it with as much grace and love as you and your family did for your Tootie. God bless you and your family. Our condolences and sympathies. I ask for your prayers as we travel our similar journey with my 90 year old grandmother. Thank you for sharing your story.

    August 4, 2013 at 3:45 am | Reply
  11. Pam Buffin

    Morgan, I've been watching the show since the first one! Each show has been powerful and thought provoking. Thank you for your hard work! We are certainly having important discussions at our dinner table lately!

    August 3, 2013 at 11:43 pm | Reply
  12. Anthony M

    I sell long term care insurance for a living and prospect by phone and soliciting door to door. I can get 100 doors slammed, but it's all worth if I can help one family avoid the mistakes my grandparents made. I hope everyone can realize this issue before it's too late.

    August 3, 2013 at 11:36 pm | Reply
  13. Barb Olson

    My condolences to you and your family on the loss of your grandmother Tootie. She looked like a very sweet woman.

    August 3, 2013 at 9:08 pm | Reply
  14. doncscs

    Thank you for providing this issue. We are facing this with both our parents with one being worse off then the other. It's a shame that people that are in prison for breaking the law get free medical care, three meals a day and place to stay.. Where as our elderly it's not always true for them. Where are our priorities.

    August 3, 2013 at 8:48 pm | Reply
  15. Richard Nix

    Thank you Morgan for a well done show on the struggles of family caregivers.
    Please accept my deepest sympathy on the passing of your Grandma. Quite a lady who lived a wonderful life and touched so many.
    Richard Nix

    August 2, 2013 at 6:26 am | Reply
  16. Kelly Mielens

    Morgan, I just got done watching your show on your lovely Grandmother Tootie, after I got done bawling I just had to send you a message to thank you for your story. My Grandmother Agnes just passed away April and I took care of her in my home over 8 years, she was 98. I hope that people will see your show and start planning or I hope that things change so our elderly who do not have family like us will be taken care of. Please continue to do shows like this so thinks can maybe change for our lovely Grandmothers out there without family. Thanks again. Kelly Mielens

    August 1, 2013 at 8:20 pm | Reply
  17. pam

    Outstanding show. Wonderful of Morgan to share this with everyone. Touched my heart. Made me cry and laugh both. Conditions and numbers that all Americans, all people need to see and hear. Thank you,

    July 31, 2013 at 3:18 pm | Reply
  18. sandykmac

    I agree with the other comments. More needs to be addressed about this subject. I am dealing with this very subject with my mother, and to a lesser degree I dealt with the problem with my father. My mother keeps telling us that she and my father promised they would not put each other in a nursing home. My father ended his life by giving up and not eating or drinking. It was a difficult thing to watch. My mother, on the other hand, has a will to live that she doesn't realize. I've been living with my parents since 2000 and I am so glad that I have been here for my mother. She had a stroke in January and we have had three hospital and then rehab visits since. The first time, she had progress and she did well at home. She got home health care, but when the therapy ended, she regressed. Finally, after the last round of therapy, we were told she might have Parkinson's Disease. We never thought of that since she doesn't have much of a tremor, but through research, it fit. Now she's getting medication for that. We talked my mother into agreeing to go to assisted living. My sister made appointments and we went looking. Two of them really stood out and the last one is so close to our houses, it's ideal. As a plus, she has visited them in the past and really enjoyed going there for visits. We're hoping her savings will hold out long enough because she will need to use all of her Social Security and pension benefits and some savings every month. It has really gotten to the point that my sons and I have been unable to take care of all of her needs. I could feel myself resenting it and getting hostile without wanting to. Meditation helped, but it's been hard. Then, I broke my leg and would not have been able to do much for her and my sons both work nights and need some sleep during the day. Then, there's the confusion of so many choices these days. Who knew that there was rehab, skilled nursing, assisted living, etc.? We all really need more information. I've found out that I can get assistance for myself since my husband was a veteran. Sadly, my father was in the reserves and didn't have a single day of active service or my mother would be eligible.

    July 30, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Reply
  19. Allsmiles

    This episode really touched me. My grandmother passed away July 9th at the age of 94. As a breast cancer survivor of twenty years, she became ill suddenly and was hospitalized. In less than two weeks, she was gone as the cancer returned and metastasized.
    My oldest sister cared for my grandmother for three years in her home in NC. She was in a nursing home briefly and when we felt like the care was sub par, my sister took her out and brought her back to her home.
    Caring for an elderly loved one can be difficult and great all at the same time. I miss her and am grateful that we had an extra 20 years with her. Thank you for this story.

    July 30, 2013 at 8:49 am | Reply
  20. Tiffany Sloan

    Thank you for sharing your grandmother and your family. It was such a beautifully done and touching documentary. I am glad that I had the chance to learn about her. Please continue the wonderful work that you've been doing.

    July 29, 2013 at 11:10 pm | Reply
  21. jane

    I hope you continue with more indepth coverage of elder care. Having worked for over 40 years as a nurses aide , I've come to believe that nursing homes are almost all owned and operated by big business chains. These chains have powerful lobbyists who have succeded in maintaining low wages for caregivers who take care of the elderly and disabled with direct care skills . These same big chains have lobbied to kill the staff-to-patient ratio laws that once limited the number of residents we could be assigned to care for on our shift. We need to examine the powerful influence and control big business has on the lives of the elderly and disabled. They don't need $8000. a month to care for the elderly and disabled...figure out their don't need a degree in Math to see that their profits are "American Greed". Again; I hope your insideman story is only "part one " so far. If you need any true life stories about nursing home life in America, get in touch with me. Good Luck.

    July 29, 2013 at 9:32 pm | Reply
  22. Tom

    Dear Morgan,
    First let me say that you have my sympathy on the passing of your grandmother.

    My parents were both born in August 1917. In 2005 I got my "crash" course in taking care of my parents. Mom had a stroke, and I had to move my parents to a senior living facility. Six monthes later my dad was diagnosed with accellerated dementia. I moved him to a memory care facility, while my mother stayed in the independant living apartment. All this was private pay (no long term care insurance or public assistance other then social security). I had taken on the job of managing their finances. My dad passed away in 2008. The relief from worrying about his care over shadowed my grief, and I can't recall being able to shed a tear! I continued to take care of my mom, watching the dollars as best I could. In 2010 , due to her health (she was falling) I had her placed in an assisted living facilty. Expensive but we were still private paying. She was there for about one and a half years, and I worried constantly about what would happen, or what I would do, when her money ran out. As it turned out she passed away about 3 monthes before her savings were gone. Again, after having dealt with state, federal, and health care agencies for about six years, the relief of worrying was greater then my ability to cry. I guess I grieved in my own way?
    Then I watched your program.......I was finally able to cry!!
    I hope that all those who have been down this road,will understand my feelings.

    Learning from this, my wife and I have taken a great number of legal and financial steps so that we won't put our daughter through what we had to do.

    God Bless
    Tom H

    July 29, 2013 at 6:24 pm | Reply
    • Gloria

      After my Mom's stroke, I learned how difficult it is to instantly become a "parent's parent". As a result of her stroke, she had dementia and because she had a small S.S. check and no savings, I had to apply to Medicaid for assistance. She was approved, but I learned that nursing homes limit the number of Medicaid beds in their facility. I searched and searched but couldn't find a bed so that she could be discharged from the hospital. The hospital wanted her out as soon as the doctor discharged her, because Medicare was no longer reimbursing them for her stay. They tried to intimidate me and make me feel that if I didn't get her out, that they would maybe throw her out (I knew they couldn't do that.). I told them I couldn't find a bed and that I needed their help to find one. They told me that they would find a bed but that it might be far, far away. I told them to do whatever they had to do. Strangely enough (?), they found one close by. They have a lot more clout than a family does to find a way to release the patient. I also learned that a family member should never list their name as the Guarantor for the patient's hospital or doctor bills. Always list the patient as their own Guarantor so that if their insurance doesn't pay all the bill, the hospital or doctor can't legally make anyone else responsible for it. There were some medical providers who tried to make me sign as guarantor, and I wouldn't do it. If insurance doesn't pay all of their bill, they just need to write it off as a bad debt. These are some things I learned in the three years I was my "parent's parent".

      July 30, 2013 at 6:47 pm | Reply
  23. jloverde

    As the author of The Complete Eldercare Planner (Random House, 2009), I eagerly watched your documentary on the subject of walking a loved one to death's door. Your film sensitively captured the roller coaster of emotional ups and downs. Bravo to you and your production team. I hope you will be inspired to produce more films on the topic of eldercare and family caregiving.

    July 29, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Reply
  24. Barbara

    Bravo!!! Wonderful, touching show on aging and the inevitable issues we have to face. It brought back memories of the issues and emotions with which I struggled during the last 3 years of my late Mom's life. There was so much I had to learn and there is no real guide book and much misinformation. I wish every adult could see this program so that personally – and as a country – we can discuss the health issues that confront us.

    Thanks to Mr. Spurlock and his family for sharing their journey. I cried along with you. Thank you "Tootsie"an inspiring life.

    July 29, 2013 at 3:23 pm | Reply
  25. janet brown

    watched Morgan Spurlock last night,was a wonderful story and he is a great host, I too have been through that with my mom having so sad....he was great ,made me cry thank you janet

    July 29, 2013 at 2:20 pm | Reply
  26. Gloria

    As someone who's beginning to consider what elder care might mean for me, I can really appreciate Morgan's personal account of how elder care issues affected his grandmother and her family. While an hour's program was helpful as an overview, would it be possible to do a program with more detail of all the various options that our aging population and their families need to know about so they can plan more realistically? It would also be helpful if the program were scheduled earlier in the evening. Thank you,

    July 29, 2013 at 10:42 am | Reply
  27. mary

    This episode was very good–only for us, it was our parents, not grandparents, and our role quite different. Your grandma was, what we call, a "dolly" and how wonderful for you to have her so long.

    Absent from the documentary was the mention (or I missed it) of the lack of specific regulations for most assisted living facilities – quite different than the typical "nursing home" regulations. There is no great incentive to recommend leaving assisted living for the nursing home from the point of the corporation. And, I would lengthen your last statement to read "b/c saying some things out loud can remind us that as we age and become unable to be independent, our period of dependence is become greater and all members of the family are unprepared/impacted.." Yes, the finances are a significant factor, but as my husband said, as we traveled this odyssey: ultimately, if you live long enough, you are reduced to a bed with a linoleum floor. The parent's personal foot print/real estate reduces with each step in dependence, as well as their privacy and strength to overcome what is a terrifying time. For the children (most commonly), there is the daunting task of selling the house and contents while the parents are living in a new location. Let's add in the emergencies–which frequently happen during your work hours, the balancing of the lives of your own children with the needs of your parents, Time for you and your marriage? it had better be strong going into this...your "relief" is a heavy sigh and a squeeze of your hands together with a tear in your eye. It is a long (usually), lonely, guilt-ridden time. Are you doing enough? Could you do more? Can you change the path? Grief doesn't wait for the last heartbeat.

    I can't not mention that we had our lighthearted moments, and warm, wonderful memories in the last years of our parents' lives. They were not in their 90's but one with Alzheimers and one with congestive heart failure. Their marriage was sweet and their final days (in separate wings of the facility)), was magical when they could sit together, and we (and our siblings and children) were witness to the their love increasing while their physical health was declining to that little bed with the linoleum floor. If you haven't been through it with both parents at the same time, please think before you judge my comments. Our experience was the beginning of this issue, not the end.

    July 29, 2013 at 6:23 am | Reply
  28. Vishal Patel

    I think this is the best series cnn has come up with. Watched the Elder Care documentary and it was very emotional. I hurts to know that the elders who took care of us so easily are now hard to care for, not because of lack of love, but for the lack of money.

    July 29, 2013 at 1:54 am | Reply
  29. simplyput

    Even in this week's heart-breaking, difficult episode, Morgan hits on the subjects we're afraid to deal with. We need more of these, especially on elder care and health care topics we haven't even begun to look at. The show made me cry more than once, and I was almost glad for the ten-minute commercial breaks, but we need more realism. More Morgan Stanley.

    July 28, 2013 at 11:47 pm | Reply
    • simplyput

      Sorry, Mr. Spurlock....getting older here. More Morgan Spurlock.

      July 28, 2013 at 11:50 pm | Reply
  30. Ann

    Tonight's episode about Tootie was so beautifully done........ I'm sure she was smiling down on you, Morgan.

    July 28, 2013 at 11:39 pm | Reply


    July 28, 2013 at 11:23 pm | Reply
  32. Barbara

    Thanks to Morgan for sharing this heartache. This Bluefield girl living in Fairmont is dealing with very issue re her mom. Just moved mom to Columbus OH suburb to live near my brother and his offspring. Mom'd spent last decade caring for invalid second husband, who's currently still in Bluefield in nursing home with Alzheimer's. Had to do the elder care law route to access savings account in "AND," though – thank the Lord – there is enough money to fund foreseeable future. Not easy. Not avoidable. We'd all better start dealing with the inevitable.

    July 28, 2013 at 11:18 pm | Reply
  33. CeeCee

    The documentary on Mr. Spurlock's Grandmom was wonderfully done. It showed the realistic issue that we all will have to face one day no matter who you are or where you come from. Thank you for educating us and sharing Tootie with us and the graciousness and love of your family.

    July 28, 2013 at 11:13 pm | Reply
  34. jim

    "Inside Man" may be the best new/documentary type of program to hit television since the debut of 60 minutes! It is interesting, original, and sincere. He deserves tremendous praise for his efforts. A truly amazing show. I have watched all the episodes and they are all just terrific. The show on aging was just excellent. A real story-with real people who are dealing with something that all families will have to deal with. No extreme positions, no real political side taken. It really is an excellent show!!!!

    July 28, 2013 at 10:37 pm | Reply
    • Ralph

      I'm in total agreement with you Jim. The baby boomer generation had better wake up and start planning for their elder years. Once you start your research there are many GREAT SHOCKERS to take in. Thank you Morgan Spurlock for sharing your families personal story. I hope this is a beginning wake up call to America. CNN thank you for airing this important show. I hope this is just a start and you will air many more shows on aging.

      July 28, 2013 at 11:48 pm | Reply
      • Vera

        Many in the baby boomer generation are probably like me, we aren't in denial about aging like the current crop of seniors are. I would never expect a child to put their life on hold to do caregiving or spend $8,000 a month on a home. I will "off" myself with street drugs at the first signs of dementia or dependency. I live in an area full of people 30 years old than myself and I do a lot more planning than they do. They basically avoid the issue completely.

        August 4, 2013 at 12:04 am |
  35. Mary

    Caring for the elderly is a LOT like taking care of a toddler , EXCEPT . . .
    The person taking care of a toddler has legal authority to make decisions .
    With older people they still want to make decisions that often conflict with the caretakers but the caretakers rarely have legal decision making power .

    It can be a nightmare that caretakers need to be able to walk out on .
    Many fear leaving them alone as they are often a danger to themselves but they can be most obstinate about NOT respecting the caretakers .

    The other difficult part is many need daily care but few have the funds or time to provide that .
    Modern medicine is obsessed with keeping people alive even tho they are semi invalids .
    Quality of Life ends up very bad for both the elderly AND the caretaker .

    July 28, 2013 at 9:56 pm | Reply

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