by Jean Accius, PhD, AARP Public Policy Institute
In the United States, family caregivers are the backbone for the delivery of supportive services for individuals with a chronic, disabling, or serious health condition. They identify, arrange, and coordinate services and supports; provide emotional support; accompany their family member or friend to health provider visits; administer medications; assist with personal care (such as bathing and dressing); pay bills and deal with health insurance; and perform other vital activities to help individuals remain in their homes and communities for as long as possible. In light of the aging of the population, increases in life expectancy, and shrinking families, the supply of family caregivers is unlikely to keep pace with future demand.
Although the “typical” family caregiver is a 49-year-old woman who takes care of a relative, caregivers on the whole are becoming as diverse as the American population. Men, a group traditionally not recognized for performing caregiving tasks, are rising to the challenge. These husbands, brothers, sons, sons-in-law, partners, friends, and neighbors are joining, either by choice or necessity, the army of family caregivers providing care across the country. However, there is a paucity of research that has exclusively examined the impact of caregiving within and among diverse male family caregivers. Prior studies were predominately qualitative in nature and several had methodological challenges, including small sample sizes that limited the generalizability of the findings.
Using data from the Caregiving in the U.S. 2015 survey, this Spotlight highlights male family caregivers, providing current information about the experiences and challenges facing them today.
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