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Sons in the Workplace: The Role of Male Caregivers

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"Ted" – one of three adult sons – had a stressful career as a newspaper copy editor with limited time to help care for his elderly mother, who lived three hours from his home. "The demands were so great and, quite honestly, my job didn't allow for me to take off time. Care mostly fell to my sister-in-law, who lived in the same community."

For a variety of reasons, including his mother's increasing care needs, Ted exchanged his newspaper career for a contract writing business when he was in his 50s. While the job change allowed him to spend more time with his mother, who eventually moved to a skilled nursing community, his duties didn't change much.

He continued to do what he'd done before, helping to arrange care services for his mom and monitor her care, along with supporting another brother who was handling the finances. Until their mother was placed in skilled nursing, Ted's sister-in-law primarily provided the hands-on care.

Ted's story is not unusual, according to Ellen Galinsky, senior research advisor for SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management).

"According to our research, working men are just as likely as employed women to provide care for an elderly parent. But they're doing different things such as managing finances, managing medications and arranging services."

Consider these statistics, a survey of North American working family caregivers, conducted by Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead® network*:

  • On average, women spend 19.6 hours a week providing care.

  • Men spend an average total of 16.5 hours as caregivers.

  • While women are more likely to report feeling they sometimes have to choose between being a good employee and being a good daughter and feeling guilty when work takes them away from their caregiver responsibilities, men are more likely to report having been penalized at work as a result of fulfilling their caregiver responsibilities, including being passed over for raises and being told caregiving was jeopardizing their employment. It is unclear why these experiences are more common among caregiving sons, but it may be due to some employers' gender outdated expectations.

If you are a son or male spouse in the workforce caring for a senior loved one, be sure to check out what services your employer may offer to help you manage the stress of your dual roles as a family caregiver and employee.

Related Resources

Last revised: May 31, 2017

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