One of my greatest fears as a person with Cerebral Palsy is that I could end up living in a nursing home or other segregated setting. Would you like to live in a nursing home at 22 years old? Where did you live in your 20s? Most people probably lived with their families or in houses or apartments of their own. You might think of a nursing home as just for the elderly, but this is not the case.
Many non-disabled adults are likely unaware that not everyone in long-term care facilities is elderly. Among them are children and young adults. According to federal nursing home data, over 6,000 young people under the age of 21 reside in nursing homes in the United States. Many more of them are in their twenties. Adults ages 31 to 64 made up 14% of the nursing home population in 2010, according to NPR’s Investigative Unit’s analysis of official data from the Department of Health and Human Services. When I read those statistics at age 17 in 2016, I was terrified.
The stories of people like Mathew Harp and Bylon Alexander were heartbreaking to me. I feared that I might not have an opportunity to live in an apartment or house of my own as an adult. I didn’t want to be forced to live in a nursing home. That wasn’t my idea of independent living. My heart aches for disabled people stuck in facilities who want to live elsewhere.
The state of Massachusetts saves thousands of dollars each year by having people live at home. A semi-private room in a nursing home costs $7,756 per month on average. A private room costs on average $8,821 a month. This works out to $93,072 and $105,852, respectively, each year.
When I was 18-years-old, I began to think about moving out. Many 18-year-olds are preparing to live on their own for the first time. I was no different. I knew that I wanted to move out eventually. I didn’t want to live in a nursing home or a group home. I’d heard too many horror stories about these places. However, I wasn’t sure what my options would be.
I knew very few people with disabilities who lived independent lifestyles. Most people I knew lived at home with their families or in a facility. In 2019, I began researching living on my own with a disability. I did lots of research on different apartments. After more than a year, I moved out on August 1, 2020, a month before my 21st birthday. My roommate is my PCA which works out well.
Living in my apartment is a dream come true for me. All people with disabilities should be able to live in their communities. We deserve to be in our communities just like anyone else does. I love living in my hometown, and there’s no place I’d rather be.
Parker, Tim. “The Median Cost of a Nursing Home.” The Balance, The Balance, 25 Oct. 2021, https://www.thebalance.com/average-cost-of-a-nursing-home-4177589.
Shapiro, Joseph. “A New Nursing Home Population: The Young.” NPR, NPR, 9 Dec. 2010, http://www.npr.org/2010/12/09/131912529/a-new-nursing-home-population-the-young.
Shapiro, Joseph. “Youth In Nursing Homes Seek Alternative Care.” NPR, NPR, 9 Dec. 2010, http://www.npr.org/2010/12/09/131916238/youth-in-nursing-homes-seek-alternative-care.