Services providing practical support are a key component in the spectrum of social care assisting older people to age in place. Te Puāwaitanga o Ngā Tapuwae Kia Ora Tonu/Life and Living in Advanced Age: A Cohort Study in New Zealand (LiLACS NZ), a longitudinal study of Māori and non-Māori in advanced age, aims to determine predictors of successful ageing and to understand trajectories of health and wellbeing. This paper investigates whether household living arrangements (living alone or with others) might explain previously reported gender and ethnic differences in support service utilisation. We had shown that women and non-Māori received more services than men and Māori despite better health. The results of analyses in this paper show that, as expected, poorer physical function led to increased service use. After controlling for functional status, household living arrangements (living alone) were the next strongest driver of service use. In a fully adjusted model, previously observed differences around gender and ethnicity were no longer significant predictors of support service use. However, gender and ethnicity do shape living arrangements in advanced age. Women in advanced age are more likely to live alone, consequently needing more outside support, whereas men are more likely to have a spouse/partner able to provide care. Māori are more likely to live in multigenerational households, the care available at home meaning they are less likely to qualify for formal support. This study points to a need for understanding how gender and ethnicity interact with living arrangements and suggests that inequities may not be absent when the presence of others in a household renders an older person ineligible for formal care.
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