Abstract NS8: Male Caregivers Report Problems and Successes Caring for Wives/Partners

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Background: Stroke is sudden/often traumatic; its results affect both the person with stroke and family members providing care. Transitioning from the non-caregiver role to caregiver for a spouse who recently had a stroke may be unsettling, particular for men.

Purpose: Guided by Friedemann’s framework of systemic organization, this secondary data analysis examined problems and successes reported by males caring for partners (wife or long-time friend) in the first year after stroke. According to this framework, these men are driven by the desire for success, resulting in health/ well-being or congruence in caring. Whereas incongruence or poor health can result from problems experienced in caring.

Method: Using a descriptive design with IRB approval, caregivers (n=73) participated in bimonthly telephone interviews for one year. These caregivers were asked open-ended questions about problems and successes experienced in caring in the past two weeks. For this analysis, only the males caring for a partner (n=12 wives; n=1 friend) were examined. These data were analyzed using Colaizzi’s rigorous method of content analysis.

Results: The caregivers were white men with an average age of 62 years. Most were high school graduates, employed full-time, rated their health as very good/excellent, and spent 2-16 hours caring each day. There were 275 problems and 393 successes in caring reported. Five problem themes emerged: 1) adjusting to multi-tasking in everyday living, 2) recognizing physical and mental disabilities, 3) dealing with outside forces and limited resources, 4) struggling to return to normal, and 5) feeling physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. These problem themes demonstrated incongruence as the men sought to maintain their prior lives. Three success themes appeared: 1) gaining confidence through functional improvement, 2) fostering success through mutually positive attitudes, and 3) resuming normal roles. The success themes demonstrated how these men were able to find a level of well-being/congruence in caring.

Conclusions: Theory-based themes of male stroke caregivers’ problems and successes were uncovered that can be used to target interventions to help them achieve balance between incongruence and congruence in their lives.

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