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There has been a significant increase in the number of mentally ill patients residing in nursing homes. And, mixing frail elderly with younger and stronger mentally ill patients in nursing homes has resulted in violence throughout the country.

Nearly 125,000 young and middle-aged adults with serious mental illness lived in U.S. nursing homes last year. That was a 41 percent increase from 2002, when nursing homes housed nearly 89,000 mentally ill people ages 22 to 64. Younger mentally ill people now make up more than 9 percent of the nation’s nearly 1.4 million nursing home residents, up from 6 percent in 2002.

This increase is in large part a result of the closing of state mental institutions, the shortage of hospital psychiatric beds, and the surplus in nursing home beds, as today’s elderly are more likely to stay in their homes as they are healthier than previous generations.

States are responsible for screening mentally ill patients, as federal law prohibits nursing homes from admitting a mentally ill individual unless the state has found that person needs the nursing home’s high level of care.

Although federal law guarantees residents the right to be free from physical abuse, a number of tragic cases have occurred in nursing homes.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of abuse, contact a professional to discuss whether legal action should be pursued.

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