Caring for One’s Wife With Dementia – at Home: Older Husbands’ Experiences With Managing Challenges of Everyday Life
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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More than 80,000 Norwegians live with dementia. Most caregivers for people with dementia are spouses, and women outnumber men. Due to an aging population, and women’s higher risk of dementia as well as men’s increased life expectancy, the number of male caregivers will rise. There are some differences in the caregiving roles of men and women. Research suggest that males report lower burden and depression than female caregivers, but some men struggle to adjust to the caregiver role, and men are less likely to access health care services. The aim of this study is to explore the experiences of husbands engaged in caregiving for their home-dwelling spouse with dementia. This knowledge will add to the growing body of research about men in the context of dementia care and may raise gender awareness. The method is qualitative interviews with hermeneutical interpretation. The participants are five husbands recruited from two Hospital Memory Clinics in Norway. The results portray how the husbands managed their everyday challenges, and how they adapted to changes, experiences of loss and bereavement, and how they redefined personal freedom and expanded their responsibilities. Acknowledging the rewards of caregiving, the husbands found their life meaningful and they were thriving in their caregiving role. Health care personnel should recognize and respect the challenging life situation caregiving husbands may experience, calling for personnel to learn from, care for, and collaborate with them, enabling the couple to live a meaningful life together at home as long as possible.