Why are women 40% more likely to become nursing home residents than men?

by | May 6, 2012

The Journal Age and Ageing reports that the age difference between married couples accounts for why women are 40% more likely to become nursing home residents than men, new research reveals.

The long-held assumption that men, generally, are more unwilling than women to step into a caregiving role for their spouse is a myth, according to researchers from Queen’s University Belfast.

In an effort to explore gender differences in nursing home admission risk, investigators analyzed Irish census data. They found that women tend to marry men that are older than them, with an average age difference of five years. What’s more, when age was taken into account, investigators found, women were no more likely than men to be admitted to nursing homes.

“Age differences between partners are evident in most societies so it is important that issues raised in this paper are considered in future health planning,” lead author Mark McCann, Ph.D., said. “The projected narrowing of the gap in life expectancy between men and women may mean that there are more men around to provide such support in future years.”