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Young Disabled Adults in Nursing Homes

Updated on August 17, 2015
Stacie L profile image

Stacie L has been an educator for many years and likes to share her experiences and advice.

Not just for the elderly

The need for assisted living for young disable adults is a growing concern. People younger than 65 are living in geriatric facilities. Did you know this is a growing phenomena? A retirement home is traditionally a facility to care for those who are coming to the end of their life. These facilities are places for the elderly who can no longer care for themselves. Families do not have the time and skills to attend to the geriatric family member who may have medical issues requiring full time assistance.

Simply put, mom or dad may end up in one after a certain age or disability. It's not an easy decision for sure and as long as family visits on a regular basis, it should be a positive last resort. It is a topic few want to discuss and many family members will put off until it's absolutely necessary.

It's widely believed that nursing homes are only for those over 65 years of age but there has been a growing trend in the past decade. The fact is many younger patients are ending up in one.

a modern version of a nursing home
a modern version of a nursing home | Source
Blaine Beckwith is fed at home but not for long
Blaine Beckwith is fed at home but not for long

Younger patients in nursing facilities

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, the under 65 year old patients in nursing homes has increased to 22 percent in the last eight years.

Patients under 65 with End-Stage Renal Disease, those with serious mental disabilities and illnesses are moving in because they have no other place to go.

In the photo on the right, Blane Beckwith, being assisted while eating , he suffers from spinal muscular atrophy and requires a constant help each day. "Meanwhile, 314,000 of the 1.4 million disabled and elderly residents in nursing homes would rather be living in the community, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services." Courtesy of

Young people are ending up in an assisted facility or nursing homes due to cost factors.

States have slashed their budgets for adults with severe disabilities, who receive home health care, may end up in nursing homes. This is a violation of the ADA or Americans with Disabilities Act. Medicare will pay for them to live in nursing facilities so they may have no choice.

Not Home documentary trailer

an old fashioned idea of a nursing home
an old fashioned idea of a nursing home

The insurance companies have not paid for long term hospital care and expensive physical or occupational therapy in the past, but may have to with new legislation. Those who still have private insurers would prefer to pay nursing homes to care for them. Money is a big issue and medical costs are rising astronomically.

State social workers and patient advocates say this is the best alternative for now but want it to be short term.

Patients who had disabling accidents and simply ran out of funds may have to go on public assistance or Medicaid. Medicaid will pay for the full time assistance but the nursing homes are the only facility that will be paid if they need so much help.

Nicolle Perez lives in a nursing facility
Nicolle Perez lives in a nursing facility

Mentally ill and physically challenged

It's not only younger people with physical disabilities but even younger psychiatric patients are ending up in nursing homes as well.

Mental disability facilities are being shut down due to cost factors so they must go somewhere. It is a last resort since the economy tanked. Many mentally challenged patients as well have ended up on the streets due to budget problems. They are often victimized by other homeless, so unless a patient advocate intervenes and places them in a geriatric facility, there will be serious consequences.

Serious conditions that require more therapy and not getting it will cause major headaches for staff in these homes.

Schizophrenic, bipolar and mentally ill patients, as young as 18 may be placed in a geriatric facility, which surprised me. When money is an issue, the only places that are paid by the government will have to take them in. Private insurers, have denied them for so long and now Medicaid picks up the tab.

That means we all pay for them.This means that the elderly are coming in contact with mentally and emotionally disabled adults who can potentially harm them. And worse of all,the elderly bedridden have to deal with them as well.

Social Issues

When mixing young and old,  clashes are bound to happen. Depression and feelings of isolation are not unusual for the younger residents.

Seeing death and disability all around will hinder a recovering younger patient. If they think that this is going to be a permanent situation, then they may feel despair.

Getting to be around other people their age is a challenge. Staying positive and focused is a tough job for an advocate or social worker. There are state and private agencies working on getting younger people out of nursing homes.

What families can Do

I think that now that the problem of younger patients being admitted to nursing homes is being acknowledged, there needs to be some legislation to make facilities just for them.

Making a wing or section in the nursing home isn't a good solution. Dangerous patients such as mentally ill, should get the proper treatment or will end up in a prison. The public will pay one way or another.

The number of prisons has risen dramatically in the past two decades, and that is another issue.

Summary of young,disabled adults in Nursing homes

I did not delve very deeply into the details of who qualifies or not; that is up to the individual situations and state regulations. Each state has advocates for homeless with disabilities. Homelessness is the first challenge and getting the medical treatment is another challenge. I am noticing that more nursing facilities are now referred to as rehabilitation and senior nursing facilities. Maybe this is in response to new insurance?

The Affordable Care Act or ACA, “Obamacare” bill has begun as of January 1,2014 and its effect on young disabled adults is unclear. They will likely sign up for the expanded Medicaid program provided their states have opted in. As always, outcomes for those in this situation due to money issues. It does provide more options for certain, but not every state has embraced the expanded Medicaid program.

This is not a new issue for sure. I think it's a shame to have some younger people with chronic and acute conditions, living at nursing facilities. It's not healthy for either the geriatric patient trying to live their last days in dignity and peace of mind, nor the younger person, who has to deal with serious issues and depression.

Young People in Nursing Homes

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© 2011 Stacie L


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  • Stacie L profile image

    Stacie L 2 years ago

    Chantell Porter. Yes, it seems that the younger disabled and low income,do not have alot of choice except a nursing facility. Maybe they need some one to register them to vote and organize an organization to help them gain some clout.

  • Chantelle Porter profile image

    Chantelle Porter 2 years ago from Chicago

    It is disgraceful that in a country as wealthy as ours that young people a re warehoused in nursing homes. I know a young man who is 32 and is stuck in this position. He is physically disabled but mentally enjoys conversation and outings. He wants to get a job. He spends his days languishing with a group of people who can't talk and do very little. It is tragic.

  • Stacie L profile image

    Stacie L 2 years ago

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment for Young adults in nursing homes hub!

  • peachpurple profile image

    peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

    a touching hub, i wish more people could volunteer and help

  • Stacie L profile image

    Stacie L 5 years ago

    @kehussy:yes, this has been an ongoing problem for years and it's getting worse. I don't know yet if the new healthcare laws will help or hurt young adults living in nursing homes.Thanks for reading and spread the word.

  • kehussy profile image

    kehussy 5 years ago from Houston, Texas, USA

    Wow! This comes as a bit surprising to me. I wasn't aware of this. Thanks for coming up this hub.

  • Stacie L profile image

    Stacie L 6 years ago

    KoffeKlatch Gals; thank you for the comments. Social issues are important to me and hopefully it will bring some light to the subject.:-)

  • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

    Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Very well written and well researched. How sad it is that to get proper care a young person needs to be in a nursing facility. There needs to be a better way to take care of our disabled.

  • Stacie L profile image

    Stacie L 6 years ago

    BobbiRant: it seems social problems just get swept under the rug.

    that rug will not be able to cover any more problems soon..;-/

  • BobbiRant profile image

    BobbiRant 6 years ago from New York

    Yes, this is becoming a very big problem in our society. It can be rectified, but, unfortunately, politicians don't care much and obviously nursing home 'corporations' make out very well because of the monies raked in. Working nursing homes I've seen this phenomenon first hand and it presents many challenges. Great hub concerning this growing problem.

  • Stacie L profile image

    Stacie L 6 years ago

    manjubose5; thank you for reading my hub and making your thoughtful comments.

    I have always been interested in social problems and highlight them whenever I can.

  • manjubose5 profile image

    manjubose5 6 years ago

    A sensitive and touchy topic!!

    Unfortunately even knowing all these, we can't lend our hands in a desired way.

    I personally appreciate your bold approach for highlighting the issue.

  • Stacie L profile image

    Stacie L 6 years ago

    @dohoglund:the families of the mentally challenged have always had a dilemma of where to send them as they grew older.

    There is a gap in treatment and housing alternatives.

  • Stacie L profile image

    Stacie L 6 years ago

    @L.L.Woodard: you are correct when you stated that mental facilities were closing in the 80's.I remember the mental patients being set free on the streets of a nearby towns. This posed a danger for them and the public. Some ended up in nursing homes and some in jail.

  • dahoglund profile image

    Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

    I remebe I once had a cousin with downs syndrom. His parents who lived in a small town tried to take care of him but eventual had to send him to a home of some sort. Howefer, it appeared that he might have benn abused in the home. It is a dilemma. This was many years ago, however.

  • L.L. Woodard profile image

    L.L. Woodard 6 years ago from Oklahoma City

    This is a situation that has no clear, simple answers. At one time the mentally ill were housed in mental facilities--many of them for the duration of their lives. In the 1980s, many of those facilities closed and people who had been institutionalized for a great portion of their lives had few alternatives. The long term mental hospitals were not the solution, but neither are traditional nursing homes.

  • Stacie L profile image

    Stacie L 6 years ago

    thank you your commenting katrinasui! :-)

  • katrinasui profile image

    katrinasui 6 years ago

    Great hub on such a good topic.

  • Stacie L profile image

    Stacie L 6 years ago

    pamela99; thank you for reading and your comments.few people outside of nursing homes know the details...

    The Govt and people are footing the tab when insurance doesn't.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    I heard this on the news but none of the details you included. This sounds like it is becoming a major problem and I agree that something should be done now before the problem is totally out of hand. Excellent hub.

  • Stacie L profile image

    Stacie L 6 years ago

    @Fiddleman: thank you for reading and commenting!It is important.

  • Stacie L profile image

    Stacie L 6 years ago

    LillyGrillzit: you are quick to comment!

    thanks for reading and your insightful comments. it' a problem few realize exists.

  • Fiddleman profile image

    Robert Elias Ballard 6 years ago from Zirconia, North Carolina

    An issue that does need to be addressed. Great hub, thanks for sharing.

  • LillyGrillzit profile image

    Lori J Latimer 6 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

    This is a well written Hub, and includes many facts and I am glad you brought this to our attention. Personally, I think giving funds back to the family will be much cheaper than building new facilities for young people. But, I don't know much about this. It is something to think about.