Men caring for wives or partners with dementia: Masculinity, strain and gain
Baker, Kevin L.
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Over the last three decades, demographic changes in the developed world have meant more older men find themselves in caregiving roles. Little research has been undertaken with male caregivers in dementia care. Although there is general consensus that men construe care differently to women, gender has seldom been treated as an independent variable that can inform supportive interventions. This study, underpinned by an assumption of the benefits of men's differential response to managing illness, sought to explore how facets of masculinity might relate to male caregivers' appraisals of strain and gain in dementia care. Seventy men, currently caring for a partner with dementia, completed questionnaires exploring their gender identity (Personal Attributes Questionnaire), gender role conflict (Gender Role Conflict Scale), and appraisals of carer strain and gain (Brief Zarit Burden Interview and Caregiving Satisfaction Scale). They were also asked to provide demographic information and, since caregiver strain is significantly affected by a care-receiver's cognitive and behavioural difficulties, to complete the revised Memory and Behaviour Problems Checklist. Carers' age and duration of caregiving was broadly representative of previous studies. A series of regression analyses revealed contrasting findings to previous studies. Gender identity did not appear important in carer's evaluations of strain or gain, and only the 'restrictive affectionate behaviour between men' subscale of gender role conflict had explanatory power in analyses with all strain and gain variables. Findings are discussed with regard to response bias and defended masculinity. Consideration is made about how men can successfully access services.