NY Times: Bed Shortage for Males Entering Nursing Homes

It’s getting harder for men to find a nursing home bed compared to women, according to a post on the New York Times’ The New Old Age blog, because the female census so heavily outweighs the number of male residents and skews roommate logistics.

Nursing homes are heavily female, like the elderly population itself. A report by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in 2010 found that about two-thirds of residents were women. In some homes I’ve visited, it looks closer to 80 percent.

And most rooms in nursing homes are “semiprivate,” one of the great euphemisms of modern health care. Medicaid, which pays for most nursing home care, will cover only a semiprivate room.

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So since a man entering a facility can’t bunk with a woman, an available bed in a room assigned to a woman will require another woman. The man goes on a waiting list until there’s a bed in a room with another man.

Theoretically, if two women left the nursing home at about the same time, or died, the administrators could place their former roommates together, thus opening a room for men. “But unless you have two men to bring in, you’re taking a chance,” said Joan Rubin-Kritz, director of social services at Greenwood House, a Jewish nursing home outside Trenton. “If the next three people who call are women, you can’t take them.”

In cases where a elderly male needs to enter a nursing home for pressing medical reasons, a possible delay because of rooming could be a serious problem, especially for those who can’t afford an private room, the blog points out.

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Read the full post here.

Written by Alyssa Gerace

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