NEARLY two-thirds of the residents of nursing homes are female – highlighting their longer life-expectancy compared to men, according to a Department of Health report.
The census of nursing home residents and the older population living at home also revealed there are twice as many women over 85 years old as men.
Life expectancy for men was 77.9 years in 2010 and is expected to rise to 85.1 years by 2046. Women's life expectancy is currently 82.7 years and it should be 88.5 years by 2046.
Among pensioners, widows outnumber widowers. Nearly one-in-four women in this age group has lost a spouse, compared to one-in-eight men.
Within the State, 11.7pc of the population is 65 or older, but this varies from 10.5pc in Dublin and the north-east, to 13pc in the west.
"However, in absolute numbers, the southern region has the lower number (146,189) of people aged 65 or over, with Dublin and the north-east at the lowest with 107,225."
Over two-thirds of residents in long-stay nursing homes are over 80. The percentage over 95 is 6.2pc. Just over two-thirds (66.3pc) of patients are in the high and maximum dependency category.
More than half of admissions to nursing homes during 2012 were people who lived at home. They ranged from 69.1pc admitted to HSE-run homes, to 36.7pc to private nursing homes.
The largest proportion of admissions to private nursing homes came from acute hospitals, at 50pc. Almost half of admissions to long-stay beds were people in acute hospitals.
It pointed out that according to Eurostat, in 2012, the Irish older population made up 11.9pc of the total population.
This compares to an EU average of 17.8pc, a proportion that Ireland is not due to reach until sometime between 2026 and 2031.
Meanwhile, Health Minister James Reilly has defended the decision by many nursing homes to charge extra for services not covered under the Fair Deal scheme. He said all residents under the scheme make a contribution towards the cost of their care based on their means. This applied irrespective of whether the nursing home was public, private or voluntary.
The scheme covers the cost of the standard components of long-term residential care, including nursing and personal care appropriate to the level of care needs of the person, bed and board, basic aids and appliances necessary to assist with the activities of daily living.
"A person's eligibility for other schemes, such as the medical card scheme or the drugs payment scheme, is unaffected by participation in the Nursing Homes Support Scheme or residence in a nursing home."
The minister pointed out that the legislation stipulated that the registered provider of the nursing home must agree a contract with each resident within one month of their admission.
This contract must include details of the services to be provided to that resident and the fees to be charged.