Youth In Nursing Homes Seek Alternative Care

Source: Joseph Shapiro, NPR, All Things Considered, December 9, 2010

In a hotel ballroom outside Atlanta, a young man glides his wheelchair to the front of the meeting room. With his twisted hand he hits a button on a small gray box attached to the front of the chair and a machine speaks for him. “I am Mathew Harp, and I am 22 years old.”…
Picture a nursing home and you think of a place for the elderly. But yearly federal nursing home data shows that there are more than 6,000 young people up to the age of 21 living in American nursing homes. And there are thousands more who are in their early 20s….
“I was the youngest person in the nursing home. Most of the others were very old. I had only a few friends that would come and see me. I missed everyone very much,” he said. “And I wanted to leave. I wanted to live with my family so that I would not miss them so much.” After a year in the nursing home, Harp got his wish and, in March, he moved back into his mother’s home. That was possible because a state and federal program paid for the aides who come to his house nine hours every day. They help him get up, get dressed and eat.

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