Ohio Nursing Homes are Not Just for the Elderly

Young adults in Ohio nursing homesWhen most people think of nursing home residents, they probably think of older people—men and women in their seventies and eighties and beyond.  In reality, there are a growing population of patients in their twenties and thirties, and some even younger, who are moving into Ohio’s and the nation’s nursing homes.

Federal nursing home data indicate more than 6,000 young people, age 21 and under, live in America’s nursing homes. Fourteen percent of current nursing home residents are aged 31 to 64, according to a study by National Public Radio (NPR).  This is a 22 percent increase in the past eight years in the so-called working age population, (people aged 31 to 64).  The latter group now number about 203,000 nursing home residents, according to figures released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMMS) in 2011.

Why is this happening?  Why are people so young living in nursing homes?

One reason is the limited resources available to help people with developmental disabilities and mental health needs.  More people with psychiatric issues are also seeing many psychiatric hospitals close and these patients become nursing home residents.

Young people with traumatic injury, muscular diseases and obesity often have nowhere to turn, but a nursing home for the kind of care they need and those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes and severe kidney disease can no longer get the care they need elsewhere.  Programs that help disabled people live at home are being cut, although in most cases the cost for people to live at home is about one third that of living in a nursing home.

Adding to the problem is the sporadic enforcement of federal policies which established civil rights for many to obtain long-term care at home.  NPR reports there are 400,000 people on waiting lists for home-based care although in the Olmstead case, decided in 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Act makes unnecessary institutionalization of disabled people a form of discrimination.

Another reason for the increasing youth among the nursing home population is failure to follow federal laws that require those who are going into a nursing home to be informed about alternatives.  Many younger residents say they were not told about alternatives.  Often a disabled person must work with an advocate or be willing to litigate to be able to stay out of a nursing home or move from a nursing home to a more age-appropriate environment or to receive home-based care.

Fortunately, some of the younger people are in a nursing home for short-term care, medical advances have kept them alive, usually following a traumatic accident.

But for those who are there for the longer stretch, nursing home staffs are starting to accommodate the younger residents.  Some house their youngest occupants together—in their own separate wing, if possible.

Others have a separate activity program for the younger residents who show much more interest in loud music and technology than activities favored by the typical nursing home group.  Poker is more popular then bingo with most in the younger set and a trip outside the nursing home facility might be to a nightclub rather than a more sedate location.

According to CMMS, the overall percentage of nursing home residents under 30 is less than one percent, but funds in the states and the federal government for home-based care keep dwindling as the need for assisted living in the younger population keeps rising.  Sometimes people go to nursing homes because they find it is the only way they can get care.

A broad spectrum government-run insurance program for long-term care patients was instituted as the Community Choice Act in 2009, then became the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act.  The CLASS Act was incorporated into the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare).

Early this year (February1, 2012), the CLASS Act was repealed by the House of Representatives because it was deemed fiscally impossible to comply with the provisions of the Act as written.

The problem of younger people being forced to live in nursing homes seems to be one without easy answers.  Hopefully, the new health care legislation with its pledge to help the less fortunate will not ignore this group of people who really don’t belong where they have, often by default, found themselves living.

If you or a loved one of any age has become the victim of abuse or neglect in an Ohio nursing home or long term care facility, contact the Ohio law firm of Slater & Zurz LLP for a free consultation by calling 1-888-709-9967 or send a message from the website at stopohionursinghomeabuse.com.

Speaking with an attorney experienced with nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect in Ohio will answer your questions and help you decide what actions you can take.

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About slaterzurz

Slater & Zurz LLP is an Ohio law firm of highly experienced and respected attorneys. Over the last 40 years, we have developed a reputation for getting positive results for clients. We've been trusted with handling over 20,000 personal injury cases and our clients have received more than $120,000,000.

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One Comment on “Ohio Nursing Homes are Not Just for the Elderly”

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