Senior Living Advice: The ever-changing face of the Nursing Home

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By Beth Dow, Home Helpers of GA & AL
Today, there are about 860,000 parents over 60 years of age, who are finding themselves caring for an older adult child and wondering what will happen to their child when they are no longer able to take care of them.
Decades ago, children with disabilities didn’t outlive their parents. But today, with medical advances coupled with the physical and mental stress of taking care of a disabled child, these children are routinely outliving their parents.
In 2000, 10 percent of nursing home residents were under 65, In 2010 it was 14.2 percent and in 2014 rose to 15.1 percent.

According to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, in the past 8 years people ages 31 to 64 are entering nursing homes at a higher rate than those 65 and older. It does appear that certain areas of the country are affected more than others with the Northeast seeing the most growth in this population.
Why is this trend occurring and will it slow down? There have not been many studies looking at the trend. In fact, many states are just now noticing the age change in their population.
While few studies have been done, when looking at the history of these younger residents these common factors are often found:
• Chronic debilitating diseases
• Traumatic injuries
• Serious Mental Illnesses
• Alzheimer’s
Couple these, life-altering conditions, with:
• Aging parents who can no longer care for their child
• Little to no funding for home care
• Few long-term residential communities for those who are mentally ill
• Rising rates of diagnosed early onset of Alzheimer’s (10 percent of those diagnosed and growing)
This trend is not going to slow down and is sure to increase. So, if you are a parent caring for an older adult child, what should you do? And how do you make sure that the “what should you do” doesn’t turn into “what I should have done?”
There are two types of people in the world. Those that are proactive and those that are reactive. Let me tell you about the proactive folks. These are the folks that look at the weather for the week ahead and then look at it every day. They know how hot or cold it is going to be, they know if it is going to rain or not. They are always prepared with a sweater and/or an umbrella.
The reactive person may see the weather on TV but doesn’t really pay attention to it. They wear a sleeveless dress on a spring day that then it dips into the 40s by the afternoon. They are the ones running around the office at lunchtime to see if anyone has an umbrella they can borrow. They have the ability to know and plan for the weather, they just don’t take the time.
You can just roll with the punches and take things as they come. You can wait on a crisis to hit that makes you unable to physically take care of your child. You can hope for the best and hope that a family member will step in. You can hope that there will be enough money for in-home care.
Or, you can start planning now. Talk to your child. Have an honest, frank conversation about life after you are unable to care for them. Talk to family members and find out what their ability is or isn’t. Compare the money your adult child will have available with the cost of in-home care or residential care. Visit nursing homes and ask them what their programs for adults (under 65) are and how effective they are with those residents.
Start planning now. Please don’t wait.
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Beth Dow is the owner of Home Helpers and Direct Link of GA & AL. For more information, you can reach her at 678-876-5118 or visit their website: local.homehelpershomecare.com/newnanga/home.

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