When people think of nursing homes, the image that springs to mind is that of white haired men and women being cared for in their old age by gentle nurses and assistants. However, the elderly are not the only residents of nursing homes -- in fact, young adults ranging in age from 21 and up make up a sizable percentage of all individuals living in US nursing homes today, with 1 in 7 nursing home residents in their twenties.
Not all of these nursing home residents are incapable of caring for themselves -- in fact, in some areas, nursing homes are seeing an influx of mildly disabled young adults who are simply unable to find work, and turn to institution living instead -- but many are the victims of illness or accidents and have no other options.
When Home Health Care Isn’t Enough
For many parents, dealing with their adult child’s lifelong disability can be impossible, past a certain point. While a severely disabled child may be cared for at home with the aid of home care agencies, once they reach adult height and weight, caring for them may be very difficult.
In other cases, the young adult may not be physically disabled, but mental disabilities, or even conditions such as severe autism, may be present, rendering them incapable of making safe decisions and making them even violent with their caregivers. In such cases, a nursing home can be the right setting for further care.
Assisted Living Facilities vs. Nursing Homes
While some young adults who cannot live along may be able to receive managed care in an assisted living home, these facilities often are not equipped for patients with severe disabilities. If a patient poses a danger to themselves or to others, or needs constant round the clock care (especially in cases where the patient is bedridden), an assisted living facility will not be equipped to care for them.
A nursing home has the correct equipment and trained staff to deal with even the least mobile or most severely mentally disabled young adults when home care and assisted living are not reasonable options.
The Value of Nursing Homes to Young Adults
Nursing homes (often referred to as long-term care facilities or skilled nursing facilities) are ideal for young adults with a variety of conditions. Those bedridden or paralyzed can receive 24 hour care from qualified assistants, and specialists can visit them in the facility, for additional care.
For young adults with less severe conditions, nursing homes provide a safe, secure residence. Young adults with extremely early onset Alzheimer’s, mild temporary or permanent brain damage from trauma or surgery, or other conditions that require round the clock care in a monitored facility can benefit from a stable living situation with access to proper medical care.
Finally, in some cases, young adults with terminal illnesses require hospice care, which can also be rendered in a nursing home setting. As their needs increase and their health deteriorates, the level of care can keep pace.