Men caring for wives/partners with dementia

2010-12-23T09:37:07Z (GMT) by Kevin L. Baker
As the demographics of the population change, men are becoming increasingly important as caregivers. In the U.K., as in many countries, there are equal numbers of men and women caring for someone in their own home. Research comparing men with women carers has described sex differences in caregiving. However, these differences do not describe the variation across different men. Improving interventions and support for men would need to be informed by the ways in which men respond to the strains of caregiving. A systematic literature search was carried out to determine what is known about men coping with caring for someone with dementia. There is some interest in the different responses to carer burden from each sex, but no studies were found that assessed gender as a possible mediating factor between coping and burden. Very few studies had focused on men, or had attempted to describe the variation of responses within male carers. The problems of assessing individual differences, response bias and operationalising coping are discussed. A questionnaire survey of seventy men caring for their wife or partner with dementia was carried out to assess whether gender identity and gender role conflict are important factors in the men’s appraisals of strain and gain about their caregiver role. Gender identity, as operationalised by the Personal Attributes Questionnaire, was found not to contribute significantly to appraisals of strain and gain in comparison to established measures such as self-rated health, duration of caregiving and the carer’s reaction to memory and behaviour problems. In contrast, aspects of the Gender Role Conflict Scale, representing traditional beliefs about masculinity, significantly contributed to regression models of appraisals of strain and gain. The implications for this in terms of further research and clinical practice are discussed.

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