The Number of People Under 65 in Nursing Homes is Increasing
It is common to assume that everyone who resides in a nursing home is elderly, 80 years of age or more, but this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, younger people need to live in nursing homes or long term care facilities due to physical or mental conditions that prevent them from caring for themselves. For example, here in Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Nursing Home is a city owned facility, where 56% of the patients are under the age of 65. The number of people under 65 in nursing homes is increasing quickly.
How Many People Under 65 Live in Nursing Homes?
The trend for an increase in younger people living in nursing homes was noticed all the way back in 1988, when the New York Times wrote an article on the issue. At that point, “more than 173,000 people under the age of 65 were living in nursing homes.” This represented 11.6 percent of the patients. The trend has only increased. As of 2011, there were over 203,000 people under 65 in nursing homes. This represents a 22% increase between 2004 and 2011. At this point, 1 in 7 people who live in long term care facilities is under the age of 65.
Why Do Younger People Live in Nursing Homes?
1% of nursing home residents are actually 30 years of age and below. Frequently, these young patients suffered serious injuries and are not able to be cared for at home. Another common cause of younger residents is the lack of mental health facilities. Some younger residents are only temporarily in nursing homes, spending time there to recover from a health problem. Nursing homes, after all, are often cheaper than hospitals.
What is a Nursing Home Like for a Person Under 65?
One young man, only 26 as of 2011, suffers from “staggering isolation.” He calls the nursing home “a depressing place to live.” He feels stuck, has no privacy, and suffers from the constant negativity and death that surrounds him. Though very young, the patient has no choice but to rely on his caretakers for every aspect of his life. A difficult fate for such a young man.
Mental Health For Younger Patients
Nursing homes, generally, are used to caring for those who are close to the end of their lives. They are not equipped to help a younger person stay mentally healthy. Often, “younger residents sink into depression because of their physical limitations, their loneliness and their nursing home surroundings.”
Abuse of Nursing Home Patients Under 65?
Unfortunately, patients who are unable to speak or stand up for themselves can be easily victimized in nursing homes. A male nurse in Bronx was arrested for raping a 64 year old female patient. She had dementia and was unable to speak up for herself. In Seattle, a 34 year old patient, who is unable to speak or move, was raped by a male employee of the home. One case of rape is too many.
Pressure sores (bed sores) are also very common in patients who are unable to move or turn themselves frequently enough. This is a problem for those who are paraplegic as a result of a car accident or other injury of a type more likely to occur among younger patients. These painful wounds can easily lead to infection and death.
No One Should be Victimized in a Nursing Home
Regardless of the age of your loved one, no one should be victimized in a nursing home. In most cases, it is not the intent of the staff to hurt or provide improper care for their patients. However, people under 65 in nursing homes are as dependent on staff for their care as are those over 65. The unique needs of younger patients must be understood and managed. It is crucial that those patients under 65 be protected from abuse and neglect through proper staff screening, hiring and training.