Nursing Home Often Only Option for Single Men After Stroke

From Drugs.com - November 3, 2017

Nursing Home Often Only Option for Single Men After Stroke

FRIDAY, Nov. 3, 2017 -- It's a frequent occurrence: A single, childless older man without a designated caregiver suffers a debilitating stroke, and is sent to a nursing home for the remainder of his life.

New research shows that male seniors who find themselves in this situation have triple the odds of being sent to a nursing home within five years of their attack, compared to men with a caregiver. A similar risk was not seen for women.

The study "highlights older adults as being vulnerable to the loss of independent living if they cannot identify anyone to care for them," said study author Justin Blackburn, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

"This is particularly true for older men, who may be unable to access or reluctant to use formal services delivered within their home or community," Blackburn said. He spoke in a news release from the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, which recently published the findings.

One New York City geriatrician said this scenario is all too familiar.

"We see this on Staten Island when there are no other caregivers to help and support patients in need -- like after a stroke, when nursing home placement may be the only option left," said Dr. Theodore Strange. He is associate chair of medicine at Staten Island University Hospital.

Strange believes that "men are likely at an increased risk because, in the traditional model of the wife taking care of the home needs, this is a challenge [for men] to accomplish."

In the new study, Blackburn's team noted that "Americans prefer to remain at home with family support than to be institutionalized. Only 29 percent of adults say they are willing to move into a nursing home if they become disabled, compared with 75 percent who would rather rely on an informal caregiver."

But which Americans are most likely to find out -- too late -- that they simply have no choice when it comes to avoiding the nursing home?

In the study, Blackburn's group tracked 2003-2013 data from a national survey on more than 30,000 people aged 45 or older. One of the questions: "If you had a serious illness or became disabled, do you have someone who would be able to provide care for you on an ongoing basis?"

The researchers then tracked outcomes for any of the respondents who'd suffered a stroke during the study timeframe. Overall, 560 of the participants suffered a stroke during the 10 years of the study. Sixty-eight of these patients were sent to nursing home care within one year of their stroke, and 119 were in nursing homes within five years of their stroke, the study found.

People who did not have a caregiver were 70 percent more likely to be sent to nursing home care within a year of their stroke, and this was primarily focused on men, according to the report.

In fact, men lacking a caregiver were more than three times as likely to be sent to a nursing home compared to men who did have a caregiver. But for women in this situation, the risk rose less significantly -- 37 percent.


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