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Many nursing homes have young residents for short term rehab

Published on January 31st, 2009

The Fort Mill Times had an interesting article discussing how nursing homes are no longer for those who are elderly.  Many young people live in them when they become disabled.  The article talks about  Lori Hagedorn.  She had worked at nursing homes before she started living in one at age 45.

She suffers with chronic medical problems.  She is part of a growing population of younger people who need the long-term care, skilled nursing and structure offered in a nursing home.

Two decades ago, about 1 percent of nursing home residents were under the age of 65.  Now it’s closer to 10 percent, according to statistics from the Department of Social and Health Services in Washington state.

"It used to be a place where the aged went," Vande Merwe says. "Now 80 percent of new admissions are coming for short-term rehabilitation." Some eventually return home or go to an assisted living setting.  "It’s not that uncommon because we have a gap in the health care system between the hospital and the nursing home. People like Lori are younger, but they need the medical care. The structure and support of the staff helps people to remain as independent as possible."

Vande Merwe expects the upswing in younger patients to continue.  Some children are in nursing homes because of severe birth defects and disabilities. Other young people have diseases with no cure, such as multiple sclerosis, and may reside in nursing homes for many years.

Activity directors say keeping younger residents active and stimulated can be a challenge. For years, most programs were geared to a different generation. The new clientele would rather surf on the Internet, send e-mails or play video games.

 

Joe Pioletti
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