Small Town Nursing Homes are Closing

How many times have you or someone you know said, “I’d rather be dead than in a nursing home.” When the statement is made, it is usually in good fun and easy to laugh about it. Not only is the speaker at the height of his or her mental and physical powers, but those around them, that hear the statement, acknowledge internally that well yes, such and such will not do so well living in a nursing home. From that revelation there is a short line to the conclusion that because of such and such’s personality nursing home residency will not work.

The flaw in these revelations is that most people do not voluntarily choose to enter a nursing home, even those with strong personalities. A medical reason is a prerequisite to admission. Even when medically necessary, many people fight the move. Especially the strong personalities, no sooner are they placed in a nursing home that discussions quickly turn to hatching up an escape plan.

Across the country, individuals living in nursing home facilities close to their homes in small towns are facing the prospect of having to move to another nursing home facility because their current facility is closing.

According to The New York Times, nursing home facilities are closing because of corporate consolidations and financial mismanagement. Beds go empty, money troubles start, bills cannot be paid, and the facility must close. Staffing is also another major problem. Small town nursing home facilities have a difficult time recruiting and maintaining qualified staff. An interesting finding in the New York times reporting is that more Americans are choosing to age in their own home.

These factors severely affect individuals living in a nursing home facility. Nursing home facilities provide skilled medically necessary care to its residents. Individuals are placed in nursing homes because their families are unable to provide the 24 hours of care needed by their relative. When a nursing home facility closes its population cannot be placed intact nearby because another nearby facility does not exist and if there is one there is no bed or space for them.

It is a misconception that nursing home residents are single. Many nursing home residents are the other half of a couple. When one partner becomes ill and in need of skilled medical care, placement into a nursing home only outsources medical care. The emotional and social aspect of the person continues to thrive and grow. The spouse and nearby relatives visit regularly. The other partner may not be sick. They may still be active and able to care for themselves or may still be working.

When a nursing facility closes, the resident loses the ease of access to close by relatives and their nursing home friends. The emotional response to a move may cause anxiety, depression, and loneliness in residents. Relocation, like any type of move, is stressful and can be quite traumatic for the displaced person when it is done without their consent. Nearby placement in a nursing home facility provides a couple with the medical support they need and the social support of daily companionship necessary to live better.    

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