Most people think of nursing homes as homes for the elderly. But according to a recent report by National Public Radio, there are more than 6,000 young people under the age of 21 living in American nursing homes. There are thousands more who are in their early twenties. In fact, younger people ages 31 to 64 now account for 14 percent of the nursing home population, according to the Department of Health & Human Services. In many cases, nursing homes are now referred to as long-term care facilities or skilled nursing facilities, mostly due to the population they serve. A recent online article by McKnight’s Long-Term Care News & Assisted Living found that very few young adults are interested in participating in the development of their own care plans.
In fact, the biggest challenge for the caregivers in long-term care of young adults is developing a plan of care and in getting the resident’s involvement in its development. Separate activity programs are often needed for the young adults. They often ask for entertainment and activities that the elderly patients are not interested in, and they want it on a regular basis.
While it is uncertain precisely why the increase of young adults entering long-term care facilities is occurring, the trend is likely the result of limited resources to help people with developmental disabilities, mental health needs and other concerns. They choose not to stay in their homes even though in-home care can be substantially less expensive than nursing home facilities. Even as funds for home-based care have increased in many states, the need for assistance is rising faster, experts say. According to David Caesar, Vice President of Operations at Always Best Care Senior Services, in-home care can be about a third the cost of providing care in a nursing home or institution, depending on the number of hours required to assist the client.