Men as Caregivers

Making a Difference: Exploring the Experiences & Needs of Male Caregivers

May 31, 2011
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Abstract
Research is now challenging the assumption that men provide minimal caregiving service. This project was designed to explore the experience and needs of male caregivers inclusive of senior caregivers and to delineate any gender, cultural, or social barriers to men assuming a caregiver role. This project followed a qualitative survey approach, asking open-ended questions in focus groups, individual interviews, and through an online survey. We marketed to caregivers inclusive of seniors (55+) who included Caucasian, Aboriginal, and Chinese Catholic men, hospice volunteers and caregivers associated with several different disease-specific support organizations.

The men in this study reported some negative impacts of caregiving, but the strongest emphasis by far was on caregiving’s positive aspects, which generally coalesced into four major themes: A strengthened emotional connection with the person they cared for; a deep satisfaction with their ability to help; an increased spiritual or philosophical outlook on life; and a strengthened (Aboriginal, Chinese Catholic) or transformed (Caucasian) self-identity. Men can and do step forward to provide quality care for their loved ones, and once they take on the responsibility their care has a distinctly male perspective that can be both effective and supportive, and provide as many benefits as challenges.