Bioethics Blogs

Independence Now: The Ethics of Young Adults Living in Geriatric Care Facilities

Sarah Chapple argues that young adults who are living with a disability need access to a variety of appropriate housing and care options


It may be surprising to learn that one of the most rapidly growing populations in geriatric care facilities is not the elderly, but young adults with disabilities. An estimated 10-15% of residents living in geriatric care homes throughout Canada are young adults with disabilities.

Lack of financial resources, inadequate community resources, and limited family support can force some adults with disabilities to move into a geriatric care facility. The current care and housing options for young adults with disabilities are insufficient.

Living in geriatric care facilities can be challenging for young adults with disabilities. Food, music and recreational activities are all geared towards a much older generation, and living in a setting in which your neighbours continually pass away can be difficult for a young person who may be facing decades of institutional living. For example, 33 year-old Peter Farrah, who lives in an Ottawa geriatric care facility, claims it has adversely affected his mental health, saying he often gets “stressed out about being here,” one time getting into an “angry fit.” Others have also shared their experiences of moving into geriatric care due to lack of other housing options.

The move into a geriatric care facility often results in the separation of young adults with disabilities from their families and home community. Families may need to drive significant distances or use toll bridges and unreliable transit options to visit their loved ones, even in relatively well-serviced areas.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.