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Fact Sheet: Male Caregivers

The growing trend of male family caregivers


The needs of male family caregivers have been underserved and their contributions have often been unrecognized. Despite the large number of studies conducted around caregiving issues over the past three decades, the overwhelming majority of research has been focused on the experiences of female family caregivers or caregivers in general.

Below are some facts that illustrate the substantial number of male family caregivers, highlighting their unique needs, contributions and challenges.

Statistics on male family caregivers

  • The number of male family caregivers is growing rapidly: today, up to 45 percent of caregivers are men.
  • A longitudinal assessment from 1997 to 2009 found a significant increase in the number of men taking on caregiving roles.
  • A longitudinal assessment from 1997 to 2009 found a significant increase in the number of men taking on caregiving roles.
  • In the last 15 years, the percentage of men caring for loved ones with Alzheimer's or dementia has more than doubled, from 19 percent in 1996 to 40 percent in 2009, according to the Alzheimer's Association.
  • Male family caregivers are more likely to use the Internet as caregiving resource, but are less likely than female family caregivers to attend caregiver training.

Why build an online portal — Male Caregiver Community?

  • The number of male family caregivers is increasing and will continue to do so due to a variety of social demographic factors (birth vs. death rate; growth in aging population; increasing geographic mobility; changes in family and kinship structures, labor force participation and gender roles).
  • Cultural norms have made it difficult for men to seek and find the guidance they need.
  • The lack of awareness and attention to the needs of male family caregivers has made it difficult for men to create a community to help each other.

What makes male family caregivers different?

COMMUNICATION & SUPPORT

Male family caregivers…
  • do step up to provide the care that is needed for their loved ones and often hire outside assistance to supplement their own caregiving.
  • find it harder to open up about their feelings and are less likely to admit emotional stress or depression as a result of caregiving.
  • are less likely to discuss caregiving issues with family members, friends, co-workers and strangers.
  • don’t have the same tight social networks that women do, where they can discuss issues associated with caregiving, get advice and ask for help.
  • report decreased emotional support, a decrease in happiness and an increase in symptoms of depression.

Source:
Family Caregiver Alliance. Caregiving and Depression. Fact Sheet.
National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. Caregiving in the U.S. November, 2009.
Internal focus group by Homewatch CareGivers


CAREGIVING STYLE

Male family caregivers…
  • approach caregiving as yet another job; they segment their lives between work and caregiving and try to prevent the caregiving role from spilling over to affect other roles.
  • spend less time providing care and aren’t as comfortable providing personal care as women are.
  • more often report feeling unprepared for the active caregiving role than women do.
  • are more managerial in their approach; they tend to delegate caregiving responsibilities and hire outside professional help.
  • serve as “case managers,” coordinating care.
  • tend to look for practical solutions and direct ways to solve problems associated with caregiving, while women are more emotional in their approach to caregiving.
  • often start looking for professional help soon after a “trigger” event, such as a sudden worsening of a health condition, fall or injury — as opposed to women, who often look for help after experiencing caregiver burnout.
  • provide more long distance care and, as a result, are less involved in day-to-day caregiving.
  • are more likely to use the Internet as a caregiving resource than women.

Source:
National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. Caregiving in the U.S. November, 2009.
Internal focus group by Homewatch CareGivers

UNIQUE EXPERIENCES OF HUSBANDS PROVIDING CARE TO THEIR WIVES

Caregiving husbands…
  • are more likely to provide hands-on personal care than non-spousal caregivers.
  • complete a wider range of tasks and provide more hours of care compared to other male caregivers.
  • perform more tasks related to mobility and personal care (dressing, feeding, hygiene, etc) compared to caregiving wives.
  • are less likely to receive support from other family members.
  • experience greater depression if they have to place their wife with dementia in a nursing home.
  • are highly invested in the caregiver role; for them, caregiving is an extension of their role as a provider.