Saving nursing homes

As aging is inevitable, the need for specialized care also becomes inevitable. But what can you do if your access to quality elderly care is severely limited? Unfortunately, this is the case for many urban communities.

According to a study conducted at Brown University, the United States has lost 5% of its nursing homes (over a nine-year period), with closures being twice as likely to occur in minority neighborhoods. Not only does this leave families with fewer options, but it’s causing some moral dilemmas as well. Families are now finding themselves obliged to put their loved ones into low quality health care facilities. Also, the nursing homes may be farther away from their home communities, and if those elderly are from low income areas, their family and friends may not be able to afford the frequent trips to visit them.

What can be done to make sure additional nursing homes are not affected by the closures? Because polls have shown that people only go to nursing homes as a last resort, Dr. Mitchell H. Katz of the San Francisco Department of Health suggests that Medicare should help pay for assisted living and contribute other alternatives to nursing home care. If putting more money into new nursing homes is not an option, then the focus should be shifted towards other options like assisted living, home-based care, or community-based care. Katz says doctors should demand “high-quality nursing homes in the communities where people have lived and doctors should be more present” in order to raise the quality of care for the elderly.