Men with dementia treated much differently than women: Ontario care home study

Research suggests men more likely to be transferred to hospital emergency ward, receive antibiotics

A hospital room at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin

Researchers say they’ve discovered profound gender differences in the way Ontario nursing home residents with advanced dementia receive care in their final days — findings they say highlight a stark divide in the way men and women receive care and regard their own deaths.

Doctors with the Ontario non-profit research institute ICES released a study Friday that found male nursing home residents with advanced dementia were more likely to be hospitalized, physically restrained and receive invasive treatment than female residents in the last 30 days of life.

Lead author Dr. Nathan Stall said the data points to gender biases that are known to occur more broadly in health care, in which men are often offered more aggressive treatment than women with similar conditions.

While such interventions might be welcome earlier in life, they are often avoidable and distressing later in life and may not provide comfort if the patient is near death, said Stall, noting that by this point the resident is often frail and cognitively impaired.

“The care should generally be focused at this stage on maximizing quality of life,” said Stall.

The study looked at the experiences of 27,243 nursing home residents with advanced dementia who died between June 1, 2010, and March 31, 2015. It was published Friday in the medical journal JAMA Network Open.

READ MORE: Feds announce $50M strategy to fight dementia

Stall said men were 41 per cent more likely to be transferred to an emergency department or hospital, and were 33 per cent more likely to receive antibiotics, the administration of which can be painful for seniors who require it intravenously.

The study also questioned how often antibiotics are appropriate, noting “they are often prescribed in the absence of strong evidence for bacterial infection.” The “indiscriminate use of antibiotics in nursing homes” is also linked to the spread of multidrug-resistant organisms, researchers said, posing a “major public health threat.”

Researchers suspected unconscious gender biases were at play when it came to delivery of care.

The study cited another paper on people who complained about osteoarthritis, finding that even when presenting similar symptoms, men were more likely to be offered a joint replacement, while women were more likely to be offered physical therapy and supportive therapy.

“We know that men are more likely to be described as ‘the fighter’ than women are,” said Stall. “How does that result in people receiving interventions (at the) end of life?”

The study found that male residents were more likely to die in an acute-care facility, instead of their nursing home, and that overall, only a minority of residents saw a palliative care doctor in the year before death.

Those who did see a palliative care doctor were half as likely to be transferred to an emergency room or hospital, and 25 per cent less likely to receive antibiotics.

Stall said men and women also tend to regard death differently, with women tending to be less afraid of death and more likely to refuse intubation and CPR at the end of life.

In Canada, approximately 564,000 people were living with dementia in 2016, a number that is expected to increase to 937,000 by 2031.

Most people with dementia are older adults, two-thirds of whom are women.

Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Man pointed firearm around Wetaskiwin Circle K store Sept. 14

Wetaskiwin RCMP investigate firearms offences

Mulhurst Bay revitalization project discussed Aug. 13

Three phase project includes price tag over $900,000

Cow feeding economics for the 2019-20 winter season

Keep in mind prrice and availability of feed

Boat and trailer purchase necessary, hears county council

Several departments needed a better boat says CAO

Hot Habanero jelly good for a get-together

Homemade applesauce recipe in this week’s kitchen

VIDEO: Liberals make child care pledge, Greens unveil platform on Day 6 of campaign

Green party leader Elizabeth May unveils her party’s platform in Toronto

National weather forecasters predict average fall, cold winter

The Weather Network says precipitation will about average in most parts of Canada

Conservatives promise tax cut that they say will address Liberal increases

Scheer says the cut would apply to the lowest income bracket

Fewer trees, higher costs blamed for devastating downturn in B.C. forestry

Some say the high cost of logs is the major cause of the industry’s decline in B.C.

Federal food safety watchdog says batch of baby formula recalled

The agency says it’s conducting a food safety investigation

Red Deer Rebels drop preseason tilt to Tigers 5-3

Rebels fail to score after three first period goals

Canada Post has unfair advantage in distributing flyers: news group

Crown corporation argues newspapers, private operators deliver majority of flyers in Canada

Western Canadian Baseball team, stadium coming to Sylvan Lake

The Town announced they are finalizing an agreement to have a WCBL team in the future sports park

Most Read