n a small study, male caregivers reported the ability
to overcome problems during the first year of
caring for stroke survivor wives/partners, according
to research presented at the Nursing Symposium
taking place during the American Stroke
Association’s International Stroke Conference 2017.
Stroke is a sudden event leaving the family to deal with
new emotions and realities, said Linda L. Pierce, Ph.D., R.N.,
study lead author and professor at the University of Toledo in
Ohio. Transitioning from a non-caregiver to caregiver role can
prove challenging, particularly to men.
However, these men reported more successes than
problems. “Their successes were building blocks in
supporting their partners and, in most cases, the successes
made their relationships stronger,” Pierce said.
In this analysis, researchers conducted bimonthly
interviews asking about the problems and successes of 13
men (all white, average age 62) who cared for their partners
(wife or longtime friend) in the first year after a stroke. Most
men were employed full time and said they spent up to 16
hours each day giving care.
There were 275 problems and 393 successes in
Five problem themes emerged and suggested
that the men were struggling to
maintain their prior lives:
• Adjusting to multi-tasking in
• Recognizing physical and
• Dealing with outside forces
and limited resources;
• Struggling to return to normal;
• Feeling physically, mentally
and emotionally exhausted.
“After a stroke, not only did
the caregiver have to take over all
tasks, such as cleaning, cooking
and paying bills, he also had to
care for his spouse,” Pierce said.
“This left him struggling to balance former responsibilities at
the same time he was learning to take on several new roles.”
Three success themes emerged that demonstrated how
these men were able to find a level of well-being in their
• Gaining confidence through functional improvement;
• Fostering success through mutually positive attitudes;
• Resuming normal roles.
Many of the male caregivers said positive attitudes helped
both the caregiver and the patient.
“One said that in giving so much care, he receives
satisfaction at succeeding in caregiving and that he feels he
has ‘grown as a person’,” Pierce said.
Another caregiver reported that his wife’s willingness and
positive attitude made his job much easier and that he was
supported by her more than he supported her.
“Caregivers should be encouraged to recognize both the
strengths (successes) and weaknesses (problems) in their
relationship caring for a spouse with stroke. They should
focus on the successes as they pull together to meet life’s
challenges, but also teach them what problems to report
before small concerns become a crisis,” Pierce said.
Dr. Tamilyn Bakas offers tips for family caregivers.
Male caregivers report more positives in caring for stroke survivors
By American Heart Association News