The Growing Need for Nursing Homes

The Growing Need for Nursing Homes

As if caring for kids isn’t challenging enough, more and more families are finding themselves in the position of caring for their aging parents, as well.

You probably know someone who has been there. Perhaps you’re already there yourself. You’re not alone. As the population of older residents increases, and as families wait longer to have children, adults are finding themselves caught between caring for both younger and older generations.

Taking care of older relatives is noble, but taxing. It takes time and personal resources to assist with daily duties like groceries, laundry, cleaning, driving and more. And, eventually, it can become too much for anyone — especially anyone not trained in senior care — to bear alone.

That moment is different for everyone. It could be a fall that robs a parent of their mobility. The onset of dementia can lead to distressing lapses in memory or extreme mood swings. Or maybe simple tasks like making meals or bathing become just too difficult with age, leading to more than a family member or caretaker can handle.

That’s when help is most urgently needed. That’s when a nursing home should be considered for both care and comfort.

Skilled nursing facilities like Gracedale Nursing Home in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, have long been there to help families when they realize the job of caring for their older relatives is too big, and to restore a quality of life for residents in their later years.

The use of such facilities will be even more urgently required as the proportion of seniors continues to grow and middle generations are increasingly stretched by the burden of care.

The need is growing because:

  • There are more seniors. The youngest of the big Baby Boomer generation are approaching age 60. According to the World Health Organization, the global over-60 population totaled 1 billion in 2019 and is expected to double by 2050; the number of people 80 and older is expected to triple to 426 million. In Pennsylvania alone, the state department of aging says there are 3.4 million seniors — that’s the fifth biggest older population in the U.S.!
  • There are more family caretakers. A Pew Research Center survey in 2021 found that about a quarter of U.S. adults are part of the so-called “sandwich generation” — those who have a parent age 65 or older and are financially supporting at least one child of their own, not to mention their own employment and responsibilities. And the Family Caregiver Alliance reports that more than 1 in 6 working Americans reportedly assist in caring for an elderly or disabled family member.


Care gets more difficult as age limits safe activities, or illness or accidents take their toll. About 70% of seniors today will need some kind of long-term care, according to statistics from the federal government.

All of this means that more people are going to need care, and more families are going to need help providing it.

Why choose a nursing home?

Home-based health care services may be one preference of seniors, but those services are finding themselves less and less able to meet demand. The University of Pennsylvania’s health economics institute recently noted the continuing decline and turnover in the home-health workforce, which reduces the quality of care.

Additionally, that type of care is not typically covered by Medicare, which could leave seniors or their families to try to cover the costs.

Nursing homes like Gracedale are a better option, especially for those who need more consistent care. The trained staff includes registered and certified nurses who are able to offer 24-hour medical care, daily management of chronic conditions, and other offerings.

Consider that Gracedale offers:

  • Long-term care. The most obvious benefit of a nursing home is the full-time, 24/7 attention given to residents. That covers the medical needs, of course, but also a more comprehensive plan for general wellbeing, like emotional, and spiritual needs. Long-term care provides all the comforts of home, such as in-house laundry service, a free beauty shop and regular meals. The nutrition management program matches meals to individuals’ needs, even offering nutritious smoothies to those who can’t eat solid foods.
  • Short-term care. Not everyone at Gracedale is staying for years. The short-term rehabilitation program treats patients for a broad range of specific, personalized needs, including physical, occupational and speech therapy. There is also respite care, which allows at-home caregivers to get a temporary break.
  • Memory care. A pair of specialized units are designed specifically for one of the most difficult jobs a caregiver can have: comforting patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s. A dedicated staff keeps memory patients engaged and safe — something that may not otherwise be possible for them at home.
  • Life enrichment. Along with care comes a full calendar of social activities — the kinds of things that add life to the years. Residents can partake in community trips, parties, games, crafts and concerts. There are specialized groups for cooking and exercise. The grounds themselves offer a boost to body and spirit with Gracedale Gardens, three acres of outdoor paths, gardens and gazebos (and a particular source of pride for this facility). There’s even River, a certified support dog and unofficial Gracedale mascot, who walks the floors and gardens visiting residents.


That’s a lot more care and attention than a family member can offer in their spare time.

Why choose Gracedale?

Amenities don’t mean much when they’re too far away. Fortunately, Gracedale’s location in Nazareth is central to the Lehigh Valley, Slate Belt and Poconos. Its proximity to Routes 33 and 22, the Northeast Extension, and Interstates 80 and 78 makes an rather direct drive for visiting relatives from nearly anywhere in the densely populated tri-state region.

It’s also important to note that Medicare-eligible nursing homes both public and private are governed by strict federal and state regulations. 

However, a county-owned nursing home like Gracedale is subject to an additional level of public scrutiny, answerable to residents and public officials, holding it to even higher standards. Gracedale meets and exceeds stringent guidelines amid annual inspections.

For families already stretched between their kids and their parents, and those who are finding or will soon find themselves there, that’s a relief.