[APG Public List] Nursing homes

Ray Beere Johnson II raybeere at yahoo.com
Mon Sep 27 18:31:38 MDT 2010

     A few thoughts on this. First, "health care" does admit for using the term to describe maternity homes. This is the usage I'm familiar with - but I wonder if the OED is being a little sloppy here. In 1896 I doubt the definition would be as specific to the elderly. I'd guess the change was gradual, tilting somewhere in the 1930s to 1940s. Since the term, and any shift, are all so recent, they may missed - or simply not have bothered - highlighting that drift in emphasis.
     The OED is a great source - but like _any_ source, it is not perfect. The elderly _and_ the younger adult infirm were usually cared for by family until after World War One, at least - but those without family able or willing to care for them were originally as likely to be young as elderly. The shift occurred as medical discoveries allowed more and more youthful injuries and infirmities to be cured or at least partially relieved. Of course, another source of possible confusion is the fact that those who were, say, in constant pain were likely to prematurely age until medicine came up with more effective treatments for them, so some younger patients appeared older.
     And, yes, even now, you'll get the occasional person in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and so on in a nursing home. But there are far fewer people at those ages who cannot be helped to live a more independent life than was the case a century ago in 1910.
                             Ray Beere Johnson II

--- On Mon, 9/27/10, Drew Smith <drewsmithtpa at gmail.com> wrote:

> The OED defines "nursing home" as "a small (often private) institution
> providing residential accommodation with health care, esp. for the
> elderly", and dates that particular usage back to 1896.  It does not
> indicate any regional variations in the meaning of the term (such as
> for the United States or Canada).  And it does not indicate any usage
> of the phrase to refer to maternity homes or birth homes.


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