Older women are more likely to enter a senior care facility than older men, even when accounting for variations in health, and a recent study shows this is because many women are married to men older than themselves who are less able to provide care.
Rather than simply being unwilling to provide care, the study suggests that physical frailty and advanced age is what’s causing men to provide less care for their female partners, compared to how much care females generally provide for their male counterparts.
Looking at nearly 21,000 people in North Ireland who were 65 and older, researchers found that women were 40% more likely than men to be admitted to a nursing home.
Increasing age corresponded with deteriorating health for both males and females, but women in almost every age group had partners sicker than themselves, until they reached the 85+ bracket when men were more likely to have a partner with a “limiting long-term illness.”
“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,” said Mark McCann, the study’s author, in a statement. “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.”
View the study’s short report here.
Written by Alyssa Gerace