Ms. Chism is severely obese, unable to leave her bed without a mechanical lift and a team of nurses. She has not walked in years. Her life is circumscribed by the walls of her room.
Obesity is redrawing the common imagery of old age: The slight nursing home resident is giving way to the obese senior, hampered by diabetes, disability and other weight-related ailments. Facilities that have long cared for older adults are increasingly overwhelmed — and unprepared — to care for this new group of morbidly heavy patients.
“The population is shifting faster than the ability of nursing homes to deal with them,” said Cheryl Phillips, a senior vice president at LeadingAge, an association of nonprofit providers of services for older adults. “We don’t have adequate staff. We don’t have adequate equipment. We don’t have adequate knowledge.”