Older male carers play an increasingly important role in informal caregiving, yet they have received little attention in the literature. The aim of this study is to explore the impact of caregiving on the experience of spousal intimacy for older male caregivers. Twenty-four older male caregivers, drawn from a region of the United Kingdom participated in one-to-one interviews about their caregiving role. Thematic analysis was used to analyse data. Three themes were identified: 1)’ Impact of caregiving on the experience of sexual intimacy’; 2) ‘Impact of caregiving on the experience of emotional intimacy’; 3) ‘Not up for discussion’. When sexual intimacy was declining, some older male caregivers replaced this with emotional intimacy; some felt sad and lonely; some considered residential placement; and some were reluctant to discuss the issue. Moreover, caregivers reported that they had not received support from health/social care practitioners or other support providers for declining sexual or emotional intimacy. Sexual and emotional intimacy has been reported as important for caregivers given its link with caregiver well-being and quality of life. This is necessary for all caregivers, however it may be especially important for older male caregivers given their reported reluctance to discuss these personal matters, and evidence of loneliness and isolation. Results of this study suggest that sexual and emotional intimacy was an issue for older male caregivers, and that this issue should be considered by external support providers as part of a holistic assessment of need in order to tailor effective support.
Caregivers, Male, Intimacy, Masculinity, Gender, Support
Medical Perspectives on Aging, Health, Wellness
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
Research Associate, School of Nursing, Ulster University, United Kingdom