The POWER Study (Project for an Ontario Women’s Health Evidence-Based Report) has released a new report chapter focused on older women’s health. The topic was selected by the research team because aging has been identified as an important women’s health issue due to both social and biological factors. Older women are more likely than older men to have a greater burden of illness including multiple chronic conditions, more functional limitations, and higher rates of disability.
The report’s key findings include: women are disproportionately represented in the older adult population and among those residing in long-term care facilities; most older adults report health behaviours that may increase risk or worsen health outcomes for chronic conditions; older women are more likely to report living with disability and chronic pain; much disability among older adults is due to chronic conditions; high rates of potentially avoidable hospitalizations were found for chronic conditions among older adults; and there are opportunities to improve home care for older women and men. In terms of the social determinants of health, it was found that older women are more likely to have low-incomes than older men.
The study also found that anti-psychotic medications are prescribed to almost a third of long-term care facility residents age 65 and older without a diagnosis of psychosis. With more women residing in such facilities, more than twice as many women as men were impacted. In Ontario, nearly one in five long-term care residents were in daily physical restraints.
The report finds that the current provincial health system is not well prepared to meet the needs of the aging population and makes a number of recommendations for action.
For more information and to view “The Older Women’s Health Report, Project for an Ontario Women’s Health Evidence-Based Report, October 2011”, visit the project website at www.powerstudy.ca.