From alert commander to passive spectator: older male carers’ experience of receiving formal support


  • Jonas Sandberg PhD, RN,

  • Henrik Eriksson PhD, RN, RNT

Dr Jonas Sandberg
Senior Lecturer
Department of Caring Sciences
Ersta Sköndal University College
Stigbergsgatan 30
Stockholm 100 61
Telephone: +46 8 555 05020


Aim.  The aim was to describe older male carers’ experience of receiving formal support.

Background.  To older male carers, creating new roles seems to be important. Their need for support in their caregiving is poorly understood.

Design.  A qualitative approach with a critical perspective on men and masculinities was used.

Participants.  Focus groups comprising a total of 11 men were used.

Methods.  Qualitative content analysis was adopted.

Results.  Three categories of response were found: ‘using ad hoc solutions for maintaining a protective environment’, ‘coping but being left behind’ and ‘recapturing the caregiving role’.

Discussion.  Not only the quantity of support services offered to older male carers but also their quality dimension, based on a genuine understanding of the men’s support needs, must be addressed.

Conclusions.  Professional caregivers attempt to relieve the men of their care obligations entirely. A reciprocal arrangement involving the men as partners, instead, may help them to regard their caring experience as valuable, which is important to their self-image.

Relevance to clinical practice.  These men’s socially based networks need to be recognized by professional caregivers as important, to reframe the men’s identity and notion of masculinity.