After suffering a stroke, men without a caregiver were more likely to end up in a skilled nursing facility (SNF) than those with more help, according to a new study published in the Oct. 26 edition of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
Within five years of a stroke, 21.3% of the study’s 560 participants were placed in a nursing home. Men lacking a family or informal caregiver had a 3.2 times greater risk of nursing home placement in that span as compared to men who had a caregiver, according to Dr. Justin Blackburn, one of the study’s authors and an assistant professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
“Men who lack a caregiver may be unable to access, or reluctant to use, formal services delivered within their home or community,” Blackburn told Skilled Nursing News. “Although we did not directly address this question in our paper, it is an important direction for future research.”
Additionally, men who made less than $20,000 per year were at greater risk of being placed in a nursing home after a stroke.
One surprising finding was that other measures of social support, such as marital status or living alone, didn’t appear to affect risk of nursing home placement, Blackburn explained. Additionally, women who had strokes and lacked caregivers didn’t see the same elevated risk as men.
“One explanation is that women…could have been more likely than men to report lacking a caregiver when they actually had an adult child or spouse able and willing to take on that role,” Blackburn said. “Alternatively, there could be differences in the willingness to accept an informal caregiver depending on the relationship.”
Other familial factors may also have contributed to the increased risk of nursing home placement.
“Men most often rely on their spouse, women [rely] on children or other family members,” Blackburn said. “This family dynamic warrants further investigation as well.”
Written by Tim Regan