Homebound women with advanced Parkinson’s disease are more likely than their male peers to live alone and lack support, a new study shows.
Parkinson’s disease breaks down the nervous system. As patients age, their gait, balance, and cognitive function decline, leaving them vulnerable to accidents like falling.
Despite having Parkinson’s disease for a similar amount of time, the study found that women are more likely than men to be older, have the disease with greater severity, and deal with additional conditions related to the disease. However, women are also less likely to be treated by a neurologist — and their access to quality caregivers isn’t the same as their male counterparts.
In order to understand why this is, researchers looked at men and women who were homebound with Parkinson’s (or a related disease) and were also enrolled in home-visitation programs, with visits by a medical professional scheduled for every four months.
The 85 participants, 52% of which were women, were studied for over two years.
The findings revealed that men were much more likely to have a caregiver than women. “Comparing caregiver types, 70.7% of men identified a spouse, partner, or significant other serving as a caregiver compared to only 27.3% of women,” according to researchers.
Women were also more likely to be single or widowed — 18% of women lived alone compared to only about 3% of men.
“This study highlights the relative lack of caregivers among homebound women with advanced PD [Parkinson’s disease] and emphasizes the vulnerability of this group of patients to interruptions in continuity of care,” researchers stated.
“Identifying patients at risk for homebound status creates an opportunity for clinicians to intervene, tailoring treatment strategies toward transition to said homebound status.”