A new study in The Gerontologist reports potential gender differences in quality-of-life satisfaction for nursing home residents, with men less satisfied than women. Researchers drew their conclusions based on analysis of several data sources from nursing homes in Minnesota, including resident surveys, clinical data, and resident observation. After controlling for individual and facility characteristics, researchers concluded that men reported that they were significantly less satisfied with nursing home activities than women, had fewer friends, and were less able to rely on family for support. The most significant differences in satisfaction centered around activities and relationships. Some men expressed interest in having more community interaction, like visiting sports venues. (Interviews were conducted before the pandemic, in 2017-2018.) Overall, researchers observed that men spent considerably more time alone than women.
A notable exception was men who were Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), who participated in more group activities than white men – particularly games and religious services. They also organized their own social activities more frequently.
On average, women tend to live about five years longer than men. The population in the nation’s nursing homes reflects this life expectancy difference. For residents aged 65-74, there are 100 men for every 132 women. As age brackets increase, gender gap also grows. For those 75-84, there are 100 men for every 246 women. And for those 85 and older, there are 100 men for every 425 women.
The study concluded that age, race/ethnicity, and marital status were also key factors in predisposing quality-of-life differences between men and women. Researchers noted that these findings might also reflect gendered life experiences, with men more likely to be disappointed when family members cannot meet all their care needs. Men may also experience more frustration with loss of social status when entering a nursing home.
January 20, 2022 – C. St. John
 Davila, H., Ng, W., Akosionu, O., Thao, M. S., Skarphol, T., Virnig, B. A., Thorpe, R. J., & Shippee, T. P. Why Men Fare Worse: A Mixed Methods Study Examining Gender Differences in Nursing Home Resident Quality of Life. The Gerontologist. (January 12, 2022). https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/gnac003
 Arias, E., Tejada-Vera, B., & Ahmad, F. Vital Statistics Rapid Release. Vitals Statistics Rapid Release. (February 2021). Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/vsrr/VSRR10-508.pdf
 CDC. FastStats – Nursing Home Care. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (March 1, 2021). Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/nursing-home-care.htm
 Gurwitz, J. The Age/Gender Interface in Geriatric Pharmacotherapy. Journal of Women’s Health. (Jan. – Feb. 2005). Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15692280/#:~:text=Women%20substantially%20outnumber%20men%20among%20older%20Americans.&text=For%20those%20age%2065%2D74,men%20there%20are%20425%20women