North Carolina Lawmakers Increase Effort to Separate Institutionalized Mentally Ill from Elderly
Posted on Jul 04, 2012
The News & Observer reports that several thousand elderly people are residing in a shared living space with mentally ill patients. These mentally ill patients are often stronger and younger than the elderly residents, posing a threat to the latter’s safety. Mentally disabled patients can also suffer from the lack of specialized care found in these shared facilities which are not as medically focused as nursing homes.
The North Carolina state legislature has responded with a temporary solution; about $10 million has been allocated to the effort of finding homelike community facilities for residents with mental disabilities. Federal authorities are also offering incentives and encouraging the splitting of these populations wherever possible.
Unfortunately, this is easier to say than do. There are not enough mental facilities to adequately meet demands, and many seniors feel they are the ones getting shortchanged. Many elderly would most likely have trouble shifting to community living and asking them to do so in a set time frame would be even harder.
Medicaid pays for about a third of the costs of running facilities for the elderly; however, it will not compensate the adult care facilities if over half the residents’ primary diagnoses is mental illness. A lack of facilities to take in these mentally ill has prompted the state’s dollars to take the place of Medicaid’s.
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