Gender differences in care home admission risk: Partner's age explains the higher risk for women

Mark Mccann*, Michael Donnelly, Dermot O'Reilly

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Background: older women have a higher risk of care home admission than men, this difference remains even after accounting for variations in health. A likely reason for this is the difference in social support provided by spouses. Older men may provide less care for their wives than women do for their husbands. Objectives: this study assessed two competing explanations for this. First, older men are less willing to undertake traditionally feminine caring roles; secondly, older men are less physically able to provide care. Design: the Northern Ireland Longitudinal Study (NILS), a representative (c28%) sample of the Northern Ireland population.Findings: a total of 20,830 couples were followed over 6 years, with 415 care home admissions among NILS cohort members. Women had a higher admission risk after controlling for cohort members' age and health; however, there was no gender difference after adjusting for partner's age. Conclusion: these results suggest that advanced age and physical frailty explain why men provide less care for their partners than women do; rather than being unwilling to undertake a caring role. The narrowing gap in life expectancy between men and women may have an effect on the future demand for formal care.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberafs022
Pages (from-to)416-419
Number of pages4
JournalAge and Ageing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 01 May 2012


  • Care home admission
  • Elderly
  • Gender differences
  • Informal care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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