A 1997 survey conducted by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, a research and advocacy coalition, found that 27 percent of caregivers were men. By the 2004 update, that figure was almost 40 percent, with more male caregivers (60 percent) working full time than women caregivers (41 percent). Among the reasons for the increase: smaller families, longer life spans, more women working outside the home and greater geographic separation of family members.
While male caretakers face many of the same challenges as their female counterparts-including depression, stress, exhaustion and reduced personal time-they approach their caretaking role differently, say some experts.
“Men approach caregiving as a form of work, a series of tasks that needs to be accomplished,” says Edward H. Thompson, coeditor of Men as Caregivers and director of gerontology studies at Holy Cross College in Worcester, Mass. “I don’t mean that to sound harsh. It’s just the way they look at things.”
Because they are used to delegating, they are more comfortable seeking outside help when they need it, says Richard Russell, associate professor of social work at the State University of New York’s College at Brockport.