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Demand still strong in ND for nursing home beds and assisted living facilities

The head of the North Dakota Long Term Care Association says there is still a demand for both assisted living and nursing home beds.

"It's 94 percent occupied for nursing homes," said Association president Shelly Peterson. "There's less demand in rural North Dakota -- we probably have 300 to 400 openings in rural North Dakota, because people are moving out of the rural areas."

Peterson says the same percentage holds true for assisted living facilities. She also says the state is doing well when it comes to keeping people at home longer. Peterson says about half the people who go to a skilled nursing facility are there only for a short time rehab stay – and they can go back home.

"It is the ideal situation," said Peterson. "If something happened to me, where I became incapacitated and needed rehab, I think that would be my first choice -- going to a nursing home and getting thereapy, with the goal of returning home."

Peterson says sometimes people forget that rehab is a primary job for nursing facilities.

Peterson also says the demand for Alzheimer's care units continues to grow.

"Those units are always full," said Peterson. She says families are doing what they can to keep Alzheimer’s patients as home as long as they can.

"But there becomes that point when you have safety issues, behavior issues, or it's too difficult for the caregiver at home," said Peterson. She says the Alzheimer's Association has what she called a "fantastic program" of support and training for family caregivers.

"they also do that training for staff," said Peterson. "They are a hidden, wonderful resource in North Dakota. And they can sit down with families at any given point, and talk about what they need and what are the options."

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