Male Caregivers: Challenges
Sean A. Lauderdale, James A. D'Andrea, and David W. Coon
Until recently, the average caregiver from demographic surveys of persons who are frail and elderly (Stone, Cafferata, & Sangl, 1987) and persons with dementia (Canadian Study of Health and Aging, 1994; Ory, Hoffman, Yee, Tennstedt, & Schulz, 1999) has been either an older woman caring for her husband or a middle-aged daughter caring for her parent (or parent-inlaw). In general, men have comprised only a small proportion of these samples, accounting for approximately 25% of participants. However, changes in societal structure, such as decreasing family size, women's increasing presence in the work force, and increasing life expectancies (Dwyer & Coward, 1992), are expected to significantly impact caregiving demographics by placing more men in caregiving roles. These factors, combined with increased family mobility and larger numbers of single-headed households, will no doubt require more men to assume caregiving responsibilities in the future (Kaye & Applegate, 1990). Indeed, a recent survey of caregivers over the age of 18 providing at least some care to a chronically disabled or ill older person (National Family Caregivers Association, 2000) found that the number of men providing care accounted for almost half of that particular sample (44%). Moreover, many of these men (40%) are providing significant amounts of assistance with activities of daily living (e.g., toileting, bathing, dressing) and nursing care (e.g., administering medications). These findings call attention to the need for practitioners and service providers to consider gender a potential variable that significantly shapes caregiving experiences.