Many of the stereotypes of homes for the aged* are carryovers from the past. By and large, these homes had rather limited objectives which revolved around the notion that homes should be custodial institutions. It can be said that these institutions had been extensions of the poor farm, giving shelter (and little more) to the aged who had nowhere else to go. In the past, social norms required grown children to care and provide for their aged parents, and the three-generation family under one roof was common-place. The nature of American society during these years (before urbanization and large-scale industrialization) provided for a useful role for the elderly person in the home of his children.
Kosberg, Jordan I.
"Environmental Influences on Decisions Regarding Structure and Function of Homes for the Aged,"
The Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare: Vol. 3
, Article 11.
Available at: http://scholarworks.wmich.edu/jssw/vol3/iss2/11