Posted on October 27, 2011

Is There ‘White Flight’ from US Nursing Homes?

Onome Akpogheneta, The Grio, October 25, 2011

Minority elders are more frequently becoming nursing home residents compared to whites, a new study reveals.

Available nursing home spots in the United States decreased over 6 percent between 1999 and 2008, while still having to accommodate 1.2 million people.

A disproportionate number of residents are black, Latino and Asian, the study finds. And, compared to 1999, fewer residents are white. The study, published in Health Affairs, focuses on the top 10 metropolitan areas for each minority group.

While nursing home admissions fell by 10 percent for white elders, admissions are up 11 percent for blacks, and even more for Hispanics and Asians–over 50 percent.

This increase might suggest better access to nursing home care for minorities, but lead researcher, Dr. Zhanlian Feng, of Brown University, explains that it may be the opposite. The higher rates are actually due to a lack of access to more desirable care options for elders of ethnic minority groups, he says.


Researchers found differences within ethnic groups based on location as well. For example, there was an increase in nursing home residence of 22 percent for elder blacks in New York, but only 1 percent in the Los Angeles and Long Beach areas.


“Ultimately, poor minority elders may be increasingly relegated to nursing homes, while whites with more financial resources are able to use various home and community-based alternatives,” Feng says.

[Editor’s Note: The full report is available here.]