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2016 Conference Presentation

DementiaInformal care EnglandUnited Kingdom

6 September 2016

How men experience the provision of dementia care

Klara Lorenz, PSSRU, London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom


Objective: The provision of care to people with dementia poses challenges to unpaid carers. While carers report positive outcomes, such as the feeling of doing something good and right and the positive feeling of taking on responsibility, carers often also experience negative outcomes due to the challenges dementia care poses (Pretorius et al, 2009; Sampson and Clark, 2015). Many carers report that they find that providing dementia care is burdensome and experience mental and physical health problems (Ory et al, 1999; Vitaliano et al, 2003; Pinquart and Soerensen, 2003).

The majority of family care is currently provided by women. However, particularly among older age groups, men play an increasingly important role in the provision of care. According to the UK 2011 census data, a “slightly higher percentage” of retired men than women provide unpaid care in England and Wales (ONS, 2013).

The provision of family dementia care by older men is of growing importance as increasing male longevity enables more couples to grow old together. Male family carers provide an important share of unpaid care while, due to their often high age, they are at risk of being frail themselves. A better understanding of the experience of family male carers providing unpaid dementia care is important to ensure that this group of carers and the people they care for are able to live as well as possible with dementia

Data and methods: A literature review using a systematic approach covering PsycInfo, CINAHL and Pubmed has been conducted focusing on the needs, burden, experience and impact of family male carers. The search spans publications from January 2000 to May 2016. Articles included in the review focus on male carers looking after a person with dementia. In-depth qualitative interviews are being conducted with unpaid carers in England providing dementia care. The interviews focus on the carers understanding of wellbeing which includes discussing positive and challenging aspects of care provision, implications on carers’ physical and emotional health as well as their financial situation. Interviews will be analysed using thematic analysis. For this presentation only male spousal carers will be considered for analysis.

Results and policy implications: The proportion of men providing unpaid care at older ages has been increasing and is expected to grow. Little is known about the experience of men providing unpaid dementia care. This presentation sheds light on topics such as ‘motivation to care’, ‘approaches to care’, ‘satisfaction derived from care’, ‘carer health’, ‘stress, emotional difficulty & dealing with difficulty’ as well as ‘identity and masculinity’ as identified from the literature review. Further insight on these topic areas will be provided from qualitative in-depth interviews with male unpaid dementia carers in England.

A better understanding of the experience of men providing dementia care is important to inform policies that aim to support carers.

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