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Letters: Why we must remember to celebrate nursing homes

To the editor:

Living life to its fullest potential isn't always easy to do, especially as we grow older. But aging doesn't mean giving up our individuality or our ability to enjoy life - both of which nursing homes are celebrating this week.

May 8 through 14 marks National Nursing Home Week in America - a chance to honor those who rely on these facilities for the care they need, as well as those who provide that care day in and day out. This year's theme, "Fulfilling the Promise," encourages nursing homes to continue to focus on "person-centered" care so each resident can live life to the fullest. Throughout the week, nursing homes in communities across the country will host a wide variety of activities that celebrate this promise with residents, staff and volunteers.

It is also a time to recognize the vital role nursing homes play in our nation's health care system. Not only a place for the frail elderly who cannot care for themselves, nursing homes have become a cost-effective setting for patients with short term rehabilitative and post-acute care needs. Medicare patients are now routinely turning towards nursing facilities following a stay in a hospital due to a broken hip or a weakened heart. More than one-third of these patients return home within 100 days.

Today's nursing home also focuses on holistic care so that residents can make choices about their care and daily routine while accessing a wide variety of activities to help increase their opportunities and live meaningful lives.

Looking forward, millions of Baby Boomers will require the services nursing homes provide, making our commitment that Americans are able to live out their later years in dignity all the more important. "Fulfilling the Promise" is just one step in continuing our commitment to long term and post-acute care for years to come.

Richard J. Herrick

President, CEO, NYS Health Facilities Association

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