The high number of single baby boomers could put stress on long-term care resources, new research suggests.

Nearly one-third of baby boomers are single due to divorce, the death of a spouse or because they never married, according to investigators at Bowling Green State University. That represents a 50% increase in the rate of single Americans since 1980, researchers point out.

“The shift in marital composition of the middle-aged suggests that researchers and policymakers can no longer focus on widowhood in later life and should pay attention to the vulnerabilities of the never-married and divorced, as well,” said study co-author, I-Fen Lin, Ph.D.

Unmarried boomers are disproportionately women, non-white, in poor health and have fewer economic resources than their married counterparts. They are unlikely to have children to handle caregiving responsibilities. This puts them at a higher likelihood for being admitted to nursing homes.

Nearly a fourth of the study’s single boomers said they received food stamps or other public assistance, compared to 6% of married boomers. Results appeared in the April issue of The Gerontologist.