Nursing Homes Gaining More Under 65 Clients

It's no longer unusual to find a nursing home resident decades younger than his neighbors. About 1 in 7 people now living in such facilities in the U.S. is under 65. The number of under 65 nursing home residents has risen about 22 percent in eight years to about 203,000, according to an analysis of statistics from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

That number has climbed as mental health facilities close and medical advances keep people alive after they suffer traumatic injuries. In most instances Medicaid pays the bills. Advocates who help young patients find alternatives to nursing homes say people are often surprised to learn there are so many in them.

Federal law requires states to provide alternatives to institutional care when possible, but navigating the system can require a knowledgeable advocate and, sometimes, litigation. Many younger residents have suffered a traumatic injury. Others have neuromuscular diseases such as multiple sclerosis, or have suffered a stroke.

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