Young people winding up in nursing homes becomes a growing trend

About one in seven people now living in a nursing home in the United States is under 65. This number has risen about 22 percent in the past eight years to about 203,000, according to an analysis of statistics from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. These numbers have continued to climb as mental health facilities close and medical advances keep people alive after suffering traumatic injuries. [Source]

Quadriplegic Adam Martin

Quadriplegic Adam Martin, in a photo taken December 13, 2010, receives physical therapy from physical therapist Wes Bower at the Sarasota Health and Rehabilitation Center, the nursing home he currently resides in. Photo by Chris O'Meara; courtesy Associated Press

In a recent article published by the Associated Press, journalist Matt Sedensky interviews two quadriplegics just 26-years old who currently reside in nursing home facilities. The full article can be read here.

Advocates who help young patients find alternatives to bursing homes — advocacy organizations such as Paraquad — say that people are often surprised to learn that there are so many young people living in the facilities; estimates show about 15 percent of nursing home residents are under 65.

Federal law requires states to provide alternatives to institutional care when possible, though it implementation is determined by the state and varies from place to place. Navigating this system can be labrynthian and oftentimes requires a knowledgable advocate, and, sometimes, litigation.

Not all young nursing home patients are there for the long haul, as recovery in a nursing home is cheaper for insurance companies than in a hospital.

Still, the psychological impact for the newly disabled and their social needs can be even more demanding than their physical needs. Living in a nursing facility can pose problems at best and damaging effects at worst for these individuals. Many of the young residents sink into depression because of their physical limitations and loneliness as their nursing home conditions have them living with elderly patients with dimentia, alzheimers, and/or living in the end stages of their lives.

And the same generational issues that exist in the world outside are exacerbated by the close confines of the nursing home walls. Older residents complain about loud music and visitors. Young residents find it difficult to live so near individuals living in the end stages of their lives, eating the food on a menu designed for the elderly, and even more difficult is living in an environment that is sad most all of the time.

To read a more personal account of what its like to be young and living in a nursing home, you can read the complete article, from which this post is written, here.

If you or someone you know is under the age of 65 and living in a nursing home or similar facility and wishes to live independently, organizations like Paraquad may be able to assist you. Visit Paraquad at or call at (314) 289-4200. For TTY call (314) 289-4252.

Other organizations, such as the federal-state program Vocational Rehabilition (VR), may be able to help with home modifications. Contact your local state agency.

Sedensky, Matt. “More Young People Are Winding up in Nursing Homes.” Yahoo!News. Associated Press, 7 Jan. 2011. Web. 10 Jan. 2011. .

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