Primary Caregiver Duties Find Even Split With Men and Women

June 11, 2003 ( - Men are just as likely as women to report they are the primary caregiver and need to modify their work schedules for the additional duties.

The majority of both men and women (54% of the men and 56% of the women) report the need to modify their work schedules and miss some work as a result of caregiving, a figure that can represent up to 15% of the total workforce. While men and women are equally likely to turn down travel and promotions because they may interfere with caregiving, men generally do not refuse overtime and are less likely to quit their jobs than women, according to a new study conducted for the MetLife Mature Market Institute by the National Alliance for Caregiving and Towson University’s Center for Productive Aging.

With the extra time needed to provide proper care, nearly two-thirds of men and women reported that caregiving had at least some negative effect on their career. Further, men and women were just as likely to report considering a job change because of caregiving.

Surprisingly, only about one third of respondents knew about their company’s eldercare programs.

Outside of the workplace, caregiving also has an impact, with men being just as likely as women to report that caregiving resulted in negative consequences for family relationships (men: 45%, women: 47%), friendships (men: 33%, women: 34%), and personal activities (men: 63%, women: 65%). Additionally, almost equal numbers of men and women provide financial support for their parents, an average of $273 per month or $3,300 per year.

Different By Some

However, difference lie in how the care is given. Men reported fewer health effects attributed to caregiving than women, perhaps because women are performing more personal tasks like bathing, dressing, feeding and toileting. Men also manage finances more than women and report performing tasks like shopping, housework, meal preparation and medication management.

Additionally, men being more likely to be a long distance caregiver, meaning they live an hour or more away from the care recipient. In fact, only a quarter of the men reported that they share a residence with the person for whom they provide help.

Yet, despite the increased attention to providing for someone else, male caregivers do not feel comfortable discussing their role and, therefore, do not seek and receive support from their colleagues and supervisors. Further, men were also more likely to report that neither their superiors nor their co-workers know they are caregivers, although the men surveyed say there is no stigma attached to caregiving.

“It’s clear from this information that helping care for one’s parents is no longer limited to daughters as it once was,” said Gail Hunt, Executive Director of the National Alliance for Caregiving in a statement. “The gender shift suggests that there are more caregivers overall and more caregivers in the workplace, meaning workplace accommodations should be made.”

“The MetLife Study of Sons at Work: Balancing Employment and Eldercare” was conducted via the Internet and is based on 1,386 respondents visiting the Towson University Web site to complete the survey. A copy of the study can be found at .