Fewer whites in U.S. nursing homes

July 8, 2011 at 2:00 AM
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PROVIDENCE, R.I., July 8 (UPI) -- The proportion of white elderly in nursing homes is declining, while the minority proportion is increasing, U.S. researchers say.

It used to be that whites were generally the only people who could afford a nursing and the only minorities in these facilities were staff, but minorities have poured into nursing homes in the last decade, at a time when whites have left in even greater numbers, researchers at Brown University say.

The study, published in the journal Health Affairs, suggests that elderly blacks, Hispanics and Asians are gaining greater access to nursing home care.

Lead author Zhanlian Feng, assistant professor of community health in the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University in Providence, says whites, having greater economic resources, may be finding better alternatives to a nursing home.

The analysis shows that between 1999 and 2008 the nation's nursing home population shrank by 6.1 percent to about 1.2 million people. In that time period, the number of whites in nursing homes decreased by 10.2 percent nationwide, while the number of blacks rose 10.8 percent, the number of Hispanics rose by 54.9 percent and the number of Asians rose by 54.1 percent.

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