Don’t Forget the Family, Family Visitors: New Law Could Mean More Elderly Residency in Nursing Homes

Trained professional caregivers are needed to take care of older adults, but changes in legislation are resulting in some nursing homes disallowing visitors. Now, families are cheering, but at least one doctor is worried.

“I hate when people go into the nursing home and they don’t have family,” an Indiana couple said.

The couple, who wanted to remain anonymous, said they found out their mother had dementia while living with Medicare and was at home. They say they didn’t want to leave her, so after a long discussion with their doctor, they made a heartbreaking decision: To move her to a nursing home.

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She joined a growing number of elderly Americans who are forced into the nursing home system because they can’t find a place for themselves, as lawmakers consider raising the legal age for Medicare coverage of nursing home care.

Families and advocates for the elderly say there is a solution, though: Open nursing homes to family visits.

Ellen Dougherty, of the National Association of State Directors of Long-Term Services and Supports, said that is not only good for the elderly, but it’s good for the staff too.

“Part of the problem is that in some cases, I think nursing homes have been closed, and staffing has been severely cut, so that it’s only two to four staff to take care of 10 residents.”

Cristina Moroni, of Voices for America’s Seniors, said family visitors can be a good check on an institution.

“[They] give an opportunity for a healthier balance,” she said.

Watch more from this startling story, above.

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