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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 a skilled nursing community, Ted’s sister-in-law primarily provided the hands-on care.

Ted’s story is not unusual. When we picture the family caregiver, very rarely do we think of men as being the primary care provider for a senior loved one. However, according to Statistics Canada in 2012, nearly half (46 percent) of all family caregivers in Canada were men.

And indeed, men play a very important role within the matrix of care. While women typically reported providing care through medical treatments and housework, men more often performed care duties such as house maintenance or outdoor work*.

“More than ever before, women are now key earners in the household. As their roles in the workplace continue to grow and family sizes continue to shrink relative to previous generations, the responsibility of care will increasingly fall to both sons and daughters in the future in a way that hasn’t been seen before,” said Nora Spinks, CEO, The Vanier Institute of the Family.

Canada’s population continues to age, and family sizes continue to get smaller, adult sons will be increasingly relied upon in the next generation to provide care for mom or dad.

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.


* Statistics Canada, Portrait of Caregivers, 2012

Last revised: May 31, 2017

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