In the United States, 1.4 million people live in nursing homes (CDC, 2016). Although the number of nursing home residents has remained constant over the past several decades, the total percentage of older persons living in nursing homes has actually declined (AARP, 2007). The percentage of persons aged 65 and up living in nursing homes or assisted living is about five percent of the population. However, the percentage of elderly living in nursing homes varies according to age cohort. The older the cohort, the more likely the person is to live in a nursing home. According to AARP (2007), 14% of Americans who are 85 and up live in nursing homes, compared with only 2% of Americans between 65 and 84. Of course, the vast majority of nursing home residents are aged 65 and up, with 45% of nursing home residents over the age of 85. Most residents of nursing homes also tend to be female: 66% of the 65 to 84 cohort and 82% of residents aged 85 and up.
Not all nursing home residents remain in the home for long periods of time. The majority of nursing home residents stay for less than three months. Only 5% live in nursing homes for five years or more, and only 18% for a year or more (AARP, 2007). Most nursing home residents need continual care and assistance with almost every aspect of their lives including eating and using the toilet, which is why independent living is no longer an option. Nursing homes offer more extensive care options and services versus assisted living. However, there are similarities between assisted living and nursing home options for seniors including access to medical interventions, nursing care, and therapies. Nursing homes offer care options for seniors who have dementia, Alzheimer’s, and terminal illnesses. Palliative and hospice care is available. There are more than 15,000 nursing homes in the United States, and almost three quarters of them are operated on a for-profit basis (CDC, 2016).
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