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Older male carers and the positive aspects of care


Older men are becoming more visible in care-giving research but there are still few studies that focus expressly on the extent to which care-giving has made positive contributions to their life and has been rewarding. Drawing on data from in-depth personal interviews, this Portuguese study analyses the positive statements in the personal descriptions of the care-giving experience of 53 elderly men who were caring for chronically-ill wives. It also explores the differences between the positive references made by the men who were caring for a wife who had dementia and those made by men whose wives had physical impairments. Using open coding and content analysis, positive aspects were identified in 32 of the 53 care-giving situations. The most prevalent themes were ‘satisfaction’ and ‘perceived social honour’. The findings show that positive returns from the caring experience and role were strongly associated with previous good marital relationships and the husband's good self-rated health, and manifested in both specific coping strategies and global and situational meaning-making processes. The study demonstrates that much more can be learnt about the positive dimensions of care in older men's lives, and that such understanding can inform and strengthen formal and therapeutic support.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Oscar Ribeiro, UNIFAI, Department of Behavioural Sciences, Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar, University of Porto, Lg. Prof.Abel Salazar, 2, 4099-003Porto, Portugal. E-mail:
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Ageing & Society
  • ISSN: 0144-686X
  • EISSN: 1469-1779
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