Monday, January 10, 2011

Nursing home patients under 65 on the rise

Undoubtedly a challenging transition at any age, the shift to a nursing home may be even more difficult for the more than 200,000 people living in such facilities under the age of 65. Nursing homes must come to terms with this reality, because this number is on the rise, and the mental health of residents is just as important as their physical needs.

"Young people in nursing homes" are a growing trend, a statistic that has increased 22 percent in just the last eight years, according to AOL (based on a statistical analysis from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services).

A recent AP article tells the story of a 26-year-old young man: A quadriplegic who feels lonely and out of place in his facility, even depressed at times.  “People die around you all the time. It starts to get really depressing because all you’re seeing is negative, negative, negative.”  Despite the fact that around 15% of nursing home residents are under 65, generational gaps make for unique challenges in addition to the already-difficult life circumstances that have led to placement in a nursing facility in the first place. “Nursing homes are not prepared in any way shape or form for young people,” said one social worker who spoke with AOL Health.

An Australian study entitled, Young people with brain injury in nursing homes: not the best option!, concludes that nursing homes are not suited for young people, especially young males. With more media attention and relevant studies, nursing homes that accommodate younger people ought to consider best efforts to instill requisite accommodations for their younger residents.  By taking into account not just the physical and rehabilitative needs, but the equally as important mental needs as well, the quality of life for young residents can be addressed.  

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