Long-Term Care No Longer for Seniors Only

When the term Long-Term Care is used,  elderly adults who require round-the-clock nursing is who naturally springs to mind.  But despite the burgeoning senior population, over the past decade adults between the ages of 31 and 64 have become the fastest growing population in nursing homes, according to a recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Whether due to illness or injury, younger adults are taking up a growing place in long-term care; in 2010 it was estimated that 14 per cent of nursing home residents were younger than 65.  And because of medical advances many younger adults spend years, even decades, living in homes designed for the elderly.    The combination of increased longevity for children born with severe disabilities and the lack of services and facilities to meet the needs of this group of adults with complex needs has left families searching for better trained staff and improved transitional care and housing.

Over the past 20 years, the number of younger adults in post-acute and long-term care has doubled and many of needs of these residents is vastly different than those of elderly patients. With growing numbers of younger adults living in a long-term care setting, staff require more training to ensure residents are involved in age-appropriate activities and relationships.  To this end, the American Medical Directors Association (AMDA) has received a $1.6 million grant to help improve care for younger adults in long-term care and studies are underway in Canada to assess and better meet the needs of a changing long-term care demographic.

To learn more about the needs of younger residents in long-term care and recommendations, follow this link to read McKnight’s guest column by Eleanor Feldman Barbara Ph.D., a long-term care consultant in the New York city area.