The Associated Press recently published an article about the number of younger people in nursing homes. The numbers are small but it does point to the fact that not all aging services are provided to the aging. The article profiled a 26 year old, further citing that one in seven people now living in nursing homes is under 65. An NPR article in December confirms that.
When a younger resident is in a nursing home, his or her schedule and activities revolves around the interests of the majority in most cases. They get up later. They don’t like bingo. Heck, they wouldn’t like me coming in and singing Sinatra! They eat at different times and prefer different food. Young people have unique and sometimes acute psychological and social needs. And there are generational differences and tensions to boot.
Some homes such as Bayshore Health Center in Duluth, Minn., cited in the article, are adapting. Young people live in private rooms in their own wing. Instead of bingo night, there is poker night. Pizza is served instead of lasagna. And meals are accommodated at preferential times. But let’s face it, these are not the appropriate conditions for young people.
This is a very important issue. Fourteen percent of residents in nursing homes is a large percentage of young people. We can debate two things. Should they be there at all? And when they are, shouldn’t their care be different and how?
Adapted and edited from my about.com blog.