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Men:  Taking on New Roles

Stroke comes into our lives unexpectedly. It can force both short term and long-term role changes on men.

  • For instance, a man who must care for a loved one who is returning home from the hospital may have to get groceries, clean and tidy the house, or even assist his wife, daughter, or sister in the bathroom.

rolesMany of the new roles of caregiving cause men to doubt whether they can do them, because they have not had to do them in the past. Caregiving has not traditionally been a male role.

  • This is because caregiving has traditionally been thought to be better suited to women.
  •  Going to work, bringing home a paycheck, and keeping everything running smoothly is supposed to be what men do. 

    Nonsense!  Many men (both young and old) have learned to be caregivers, and studies have shown that men find real satisfaction in caring for their loved one.

    Good News for Men.

    • Women and men frequently approach caregiving differently. 
      • Men are task oriented. Men tend to derive positive feelings from mastery of the many tasks they do. 
      • This creates positive feelings of accomplishment and decreases feelings of depression. 
      • Women on the other hand tend to derive positive feelings from emotions, and this makes them more likely to feel depressed in some caregiving situations.               
    • Funny thing about men:  They are motivated to do things in life because it is the right thing to do. 
      • This is called doing things out of obligation. This sense of obligation to loved ones helps men learn new roles.
      • Men have a strong sense of service and duty.  Because of this, mastering and completing a new role helps men feel closer to their loved one.

Learning New Roles.

  • Your ability to learn new roles will help determine how successful you are at helping your loved one.  For instance:
  • Some men will have to shop and get groceries for the first time in their lives. 
  • Some will have to extend their cooking beyond hotdogs and hamburgers.                                    
  • Some men will have to help their loved one in the shower or assist her to get onto the toilet.

    Role Changes and Ways to Manage
    New roles and changes in routine will make you feel unsettled, like the world is upside down.  Do not get too discouraged and hang in there.
  • Create routines so you get more comfortable with your new roles.
  • Clean the bathroom every Tuesday and the kitchen every Thursday until you know how long it will take.  Then switch it around if you want.
  • Learn little parts of more complex tasks separately before you try to put it all together. 
    • Don’t attempt to cook the entire Thanksgiving meal when you haven’t even learned to make dressing.

Worried about your ability to do some of these new tasks?

  • Don’t worry, there are really very few things in life that are absolutely crucial.  Miss some dust on the shelf?  Turn the socks pink in the wash? You may hear about these goofs but in the big scheme of things, it is not that big a deal.

Focus on the achievements of the day.

  • Review the good things you were able to accomplish, not the things you couldn’t get to or could have done better.
  • Relax, live, learn, and laugh.

Web Sites:

The following are some web sites to provide you with more information about taking on new roles:
(Please click to view Web sites)

Strength for Caring: A Place for Caregivers:

Stroke Recovery: Tips for the Caregiver:

For the Caregiver: A New Role::

Coping With Your New Role:


Del-Pino-Casado, R., Frias-Osuna, A., & Palomino-Moral, P. (2011). Subjective burden and cultural motives for caregiving in informal caregivers of older people. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 43(3), 282-291.

Kristensson Ekwall, A., & Rahm Hallberg, I. (2006, August 29). The association between caregiving satisfaction, difficulties and coping among older family caregivers. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 16, 832-844.

Taylor, C., Lillis, C., LeMane, P., & Lynn, P. (2008). Fundamentals of nursing (6th  ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Developed in 2011 by Timothy Dymond, RN, BSN at University of Toledo for Caring~Web©.

Last Updated: 4/20/16