[Hpn] Disabled Elderly Women Receive Less Home Care Than Men

Thomas Cagle nh-adapt@juno.com
Sat, 13 Jan 2001 10:23:01 -0500


From: Teresa Carroll <tcarroll@ROCHESTER.RR.COM>
     
Disabled Elderly Women Receive Less Home Care Than Men



Disabled elderly women living in the community receive about one-third
fewer
hours of informal home care than their male counterparts, and many
disabled,
elderly, married women serve as caregivers to their spouses, according to
a
recent article in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Steven J. Katz, MD, MPH, and colleagues from the University of Michigan,
Ann
Arbor, analyzed data from a nationally Representative survey in the U.S.
conducted at the University of Michigan in 1993 to determine sex
differences
in receipt of informal (generally unpaid) and formal (generally paid)
home
care. A total of 4,538 women and 2,905 men aged 70 years and older took
part
in the survey. None of the study participants lived in institutions.

The study sample included 3,109 respondents who were disabled, defined as
reporting that during the prior month they had difficulty or were
receiving
help with at least one activity of daily living (ADL), such as eating or
bathing, or with an instrumental activity of daily living (IADL), such as
taking medication, or preparing meals.

Projected demographic shifts in the U.S. population over the next 50
years
are expected to result in a marked increase in the number of elderly
people
living in the community who must cope each day with disabilities
associated
with aging and chronic disease, Katz et al. said.

Women make up a disproportionate number of disabled elderly people in the
community because they live longer than men.

Disabled women living in the community may be particularly vulnerable to
unmet needs because many of them live alone with limited resources. Even
disabled women in married households may be vulnerable to unmet needs
because they may be more likely than men to be in a caregiver role
themselves. 

The authors reported that the disabled elderly women they surveyed were
more
likely than men to be living alone (45.4 percent, compared with 16.8
percent
of men living alone). Women were much less likely to be living with a
spouse
(27.8 percent, compared with 73.6 percent of men living with spouses).
The
women were also older, reported less net worth than men, and received
less
informal care. 

"Overall, women received fewer hours of informal care per week than men
[15.7 hours per week for women, compared with 21.2 hours per week for
men],"
Katz et al. reported. "Married disabled women received many fewer hours
per
week of informal home care than married disabled men [14.8 hours per week
for women, compared with 26.2 hours for men]."

The authors suggested that husbands of disabled spouses may be less able
to
provide care because they may be less prepared to fulfill the social role
function of caregiving rather than be limited by disability.

The use of formal home care was much lower than informal care, and there
was
little difference between men and women in receipt of formal care.

"Adjusted weekly hours of formal care were 2.8 hours for women and 2.1
hours
for men," the authors reported.

The study found children, especially female children, played a dominant
role
in the care of disabled women, whereas wives played the dominant role in
the
care of disabled men.

"Among all disabled women, 44.6 percent reported receiving informal care
from one or more children vs. 22.8 percent of disabled men, and more than
80
percent of these children were daughters, daughters-in-law, or
granddaughters," Katz et al. stated. "By contrast, only 11.1 percent of
disabled women reported any informal care from a spouse, compared with
43.8
percent of disabled men.

"Because disabled elderly women rely heavily on children for support,
especially female children, the family burden and stress associated with
caring for a disabled woman should be the subject of further study," the
authors suggested. 

"Programs providing home care support to elderly people need to consider
these large sex disparities and consequences on the burden on the family
when developing and targeting intervention strategies in the community."

The U.S. National Institute on Aging provided funding support for the
Health
and Retirement Study and the Asset and Health Dynamics Among the Oldest
Old
Survey, data from which were used in this analysis.


END NOTES 

Copyright 2000, Women's Health Weekly via NewsRx.com & NewsRx.net. All
Rights Reserved. 

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