Age difference is likely the reason for women being more likely to become nursing home residents, suggests new research. 

The long-held assumption that men, generally, are more unwilling than women to step into a caregiving role for their spouse is a myth, according to researchers from Queen’s University Belfast.

In an effort to explore gender differences in nursing home admission risk, investigators analyzed Irish census data. They found that women tend to marry men that are older than them, with an average age difference of five years. 

“It is important that issues raised in this paper are considered in future health planning,” lead author Mark McCann, Ph.D., said. “The projected narrowing of the gap in life expectancy between men and women may mean that there are more men around to provide such support in future years.” 

The study was published Wednesday in the journal Age and Aging. Click here to read the paper.