Recent research at the University of Helsinki, Finland, indicates that if a person’s spouse passes away, the surviving spouse is more likely to enter a long-term care facility than those with a living spouse.

The study to be published in July in the American Journal of Public Health analyzed how the death of a spouse affects the likelihood of needing institutionalized care. According to an article in Reuters, the research team followed nearly 141,000 adults in Finland, age 65 and older, living with a spouse. They were followed for five years, and results showed the risk of entering long-term care was higher in those who lost a spouse as compared to those still living with their spouse.

One conclusion of the study was that targeted bereavement counseling would help reduce the need for institutional care.