Senior Connection

Feb 2, 2012

Fewer Beds for Men Entering Nursing Homes

The New Old Age; The New York Times

Searching for a nursing home for his hospitalized father in semirural Massachusetts, a friend of mine recently came up against an unexpected barrier. It's harder to find a bed for a man than for a woman.

File this under: Stuff That Makes Sense When You Think About It, But You Usually Don't.

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.

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.

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To Enhance The Quality Of Life For Area Seniors And Their Caregivers, The Central Massachusetts Agency On Aging Will Provide Leadership, Information And Resources, Coordination Of Services And Advocacy.