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Young, Middle Aged & Seniors. Nursing Homes Struggle To Care For An Increasingly Diverse Group Of Residents

The Enquirer-Herald had a really interesting article regarding younger people in nursing homes.  Increasingly, nursing home are becoming a place for people of all ages.  Over the past 20 years, the number of residents at nursing homes has surged.  Today, people under 65 comprise almost 10% of the nursing home population.

At Orchards Rehabilitation and Care Canter, an Idaho nursing home, four out of five people are under 55.  According to administrator Mindy Shepard, a lack of alternatives is the real reason for younger people are entering facilities once deemed only for the aged.  “It’s not that uncommon because we have a gap in the health care system between the hospital and the nursing home,” says Sheppard.

Young, Middle Aged & Seniors.One of the reasons for the increase in younger residents is the increase in poorly controlled chronic disease.  Manny younger nursing home residents suffer from:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Side effects of stroke
  • Side effects of heart attack
  • Chronic asthma
  • Pulmonary disease

Another reason for the increase in younger nursing home residents is likely due to the progress made in medical care over the past 20 years.  Younger people may be surviving chronic conditions as well as traumatic injury such as automobile accidents due to medical treatment previously unavailable.

Medical needs aside, younger people frequently have difficulty adjusting to a nursing home setting due to generational differences.  “They don’t want Lawrence Welk,” says Judy Wood, the activity director at Orchards Rehabilitation for more than 20 years. “The younger residents have different interests in music, technology .  It’s challenging.  I try to gear activities to their interests and give them group opportunities to express their feelings about being in a long-term care facility.”

Nursing home staff must not assume younger residents are automatically better able to care for themselves. Younger nursing home residents frequently require the same assistance with daily living tasks as older nursing home residents.  Staff should follow the the specific procedures set forth in younger residents ‘care plans’ to avoid confusion and injury causing situations such as falls, pressure sores or medication errors.

For laws related to Idaho nursing homes, look here.

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