BOCA RATON, FL – Due to the bad economy, many young adults are moving into nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
They don’t seem to fit in. Many of the other residents don’t have iPods or iPhones. Most don’t go out until four in the morning, listen to Eminem and watch MTV all day. But for twenty-somethings who can’t find work and can’t move back home, nursing homes and assisted living facilities are proving to be a viable lifestyle choice.
It’s no longer unusual to find a nursing home resident who is decades younger than his neighbor: About one in seven people now living in such facilities in the U.S. is a young adult in their early 20s. This growing phenomenon has presented a host of challenges for nursing homes, but they all seem to be adapting.
Many senior citizens welcome the “lively” young adults that are moving in. “We love their energy and enthusiasm,” said Jasper Winegar, “except when they start trying to hit on my gals, then I have a problem with them.”
The number of under-25 nursing home residents has risen about 72 percent in the past year to about 2,003,000, according to an analysis of statistics from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services .
The same generational tensions that exist outside nursing homes are inside them as well, and are sometimes exacerbated by the often close confines.
Older residents complain about loud music and visitors, younger residents complain about living with someone with dementia or being served creamed spinach. Many nursing homes try to house younger residents together, though in many cases their small numbers make that difficult.
At Bayshore Health Center in Duluth, Minn., 74 of the 160 residents are in their 20s, all living in private rooms in their own wing. The staff has found it to be a lot of “fun” to have the twenty-somethings in their care.
Instead of bingo night, there are poker games and raves. For someone who stays up late watching a movie, breakfast can be served at noon., rather than 7 a.m. Pizza is offered in place of lasagna; Mountain Dew and Coke are poured instead of coffee and tea.
The Obama Administration is funding nursing homes across the country to take care of twenty-somethings who can’t find work. “This is a great way to stimulate the economy and I’m all for it,” echoed Nancy Pelosi, former Speaker of the House.
Here’s one of the new residents at the Manor Acres Living Facility in Bayonne, New Jersey: