Nearly twice as many men are assuming caregiver roles in their households – looking after a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia – compared to just 15 years ago, USA Today reported.
Men now make up 40 percent of caregivers in the United States, contrasting the 19 percent reported 15 years ago, according to data from studies by the Alzheimer’s Association and the National Alliance for Caregiving.
Researchers noted that this increase is likely due to the fact that diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia are much more common in women over the age of 65 than in men of the same age. More than 3.8 million women have been diagnosed with these diseases compared to only 1.8 million men.
The increase of males in caregiver roles can also be attributed to other factors, including changes in the economy, layoffs and early retirements – as well as long life expectancies and changing gender roles, USA Today reported.
Men deal with being caregivers differently than women do, according to Jan Dougherty, director of family and community services at Banner Alzheimer's Institute in Phoenix. She noted that women tend to deal with illnesses emotionally, whereas men tend to be more stoic.
"For men, there's a sense of 'Just suck it up,' and 'Do what you have to do.' 'Be a man,' and 'This is the life you've been dealt — deal with it,'" Dougherty told USA Today.
Groups like Men Who Care, a support group founded two years ago at the Banner Alzheimer's Institute in Phoenix, have emerged to help men cope with their new roles and share advice.