Growing number of younger, mentally ill nursing home residents poses safety risks, news outlet reports

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The number of younger, mentally ill nursing home patients has been on the rise in recent years. This influx of potentially aggressive residents is creating some serious safety concerns, The Associated Press reported.

Mentally ill residents between the ages of 22 and 64 now comprise roughly 9% of the nursing home population nationwide, up from about 6% in 2002. That year, 89,000 nursing home residents were mentally ill. Now, the number is closer to 125,000, according to the AP report. A shortage of state funding for mental hospitals and a lack of hospital psychiatric beds have led to the placement of these patients in nursing homes.

One other explanation for the rise in the mentally ill nursing home population could be improved health well into old age, and advances in home healthcare, which allow many seniors to stay in their homes longer. Nursing homes with a low census might be forced to take these patients in order to stay open, the AP report suggests. The Associated Press conducted interviews and received exclusive statistics from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for its report.