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Men: Experiencing Role Strain

Most male caregivers maintain a traditional masculine belief that women are the primary caregivers. When men become the caregiver it is difficult to maintain a sense of masculinity and control. As a result, men tend to refrain from asking for help as a way to maintain that sense of control. This is considered gender role conflict and can increase your strain as a caregiver.

Also, male caregivers tend to keep their jobs thus increasing the need to use outside sources to help with their loved one. You may find yourself:

• Late to work
• Taking time off during the day
• Having more absences causing you to be concerned about your job performance.

You, as the male caregiver, need to be aware of outside sources of help and programs to assist you when needed. You may believe that these programs are meant for women to use for help, but these programs may also be useful to you as a male caregiver.

Because of the gender role strain that can occur as a family caregiver, the use of support services are needed to remain healthy, improve your care giving skills and remain in your care giving role. Caregiver support services include:

Information on physical symptoms, causes, and solutions
: “Visit: The Area Office on Aging Website for county specific services.”
Home health aids and nurses, Social workers, Pastoral care

National Institute on Aging “Fall Proofing your home.”

Remove lay rugs, raised toilet seat, walker, etc. 
Support groups and family counseling
Outside groups of people who meet regularly to talk or help problem 

Services are available through local government agencies, service organizations, or faith-based organizations. Some employers are now starting workplace support programs.

women_talkingSupport services can make a real difference in your life as a family caregiver. Counseling and support groups, and the use of respite and other services, have positive effects on your health that result in less gender role strain.Services are available through local government agencies, service organizations, or faith-based organizations. Some employers are now starting workplace support programs

Here are some other websites that may offer more helpful information about gender role strain as a caregiver (please click to view).

Fact Sheet: Male Caregivers- The Growing Trend of male family caregivers.


Baker, K.L., Robertson, N., & Connelly, D. (2010, April). Men caring for wives or partners with dementia: Masculinity, strain and gain. Aging & Mental Health, 14(3), 319-327. 

Knutsen, H., & Raholm, M. (2009). The dialectic movement between suffering and reconciliation: Male caregivers' experience of caring for their wives suffering from dementia. International Journal for Human Caring, 13(4), 50-56.

Kramer, B., & Thompson, E. (2005). Men as caregivers. Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books.

National Cancer Institute (n.d.). Family caregivers in cancer: Roles and challenges. (PDQ). Retrieved from

National Family Caregivers Association (n.d.). Agencies and organizations. Retrieved from  

Pierce, L.L., Steiner, V., Seymour J.R., Wicks, B., Wright, C., & Thompson, T. (2010). Questions caregivers asked in caring for persons with stroke. Online Journal of Nursing Informatics, 14(2). Retrieved from  

Developed in 2011 by Karen Niner, RN, BSN at the University of Toledo for Caring~Web©.

Last Updated: 5/11/17