Men Think Differently About Dementia Than Women

Attitudes Impact Care Policy-Could Be Bad. Could be Good.

men's attitude toward dementia and caregiving
While dementia occurs more in women, men have definite ideas about the disease and about caregiving. Getty Images

Maybe it is because women live longer than men that more women have dementia than men. That doesn't mean men are immune or don't think about it. They do. And a new survey from the U.K. suggests men think differently about dementia than women.

Dr. June Andrews of the University of Stirling in Scotland published the BIG ASK survey as part of the U.K.'s Dementia Festival of Ideas, which helps the university understand what projects and research to pursue in the future.

Findings

  1. Men regard dementia as part of normal aging.
  2. Men believed more community education would help with dementia; women believed health professionals need more of the education.

  3. Men believe that those with dementia can get better.

  4. Men believe drugs are part of the solution.

  5. Men more than women believe that hospital treatment of dementia patients is research based.

  6. Men are not as aware of the dangers of a hospitalization.

  7. Men have a more positive experience in interacting and being heard by the health care system.

  8. Men believe that families have a stake in the care in terms of financial and other responsibility.

  9. Women fear dementia more than men and would rather die. In fact, they fear it more than cancer.

  10. More women favored voluntary euthanasia.

Male Family Caregivers

According to a report published by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC), one out of three caregivers are men, some 15 million.

Their challenges as caregivers are as unique as their attitude differences.

  1. Males are less likely to be the sole or primary caregiver but care someone on average the same amount as women, four years.
  2. They are more inclined to seek outside help than provide personal care themselves. And since most male caregivers are caring for females and in many cases their mom, it is also awkward on both ends to assist with dressing and bathing duties.
  1. Men live further away and organize care from a distance.
  2. Men are more comfortable using technology and use the Internet as a resource.
  3. Men suffer less from a working standpoint. work full time and can make workplace adjustments more easily.

Of course, that last one probably rankles women because women suffer more in the workforce. Just as dementia patients are, female family caregivers are often stigmatized in the workforce. Often they have to hide their caregiving, take lesser roles or leave the workforce altogether. Estimates say that their loss wages can amount to as much as $350,000 over a lifetime.

Dr. Andrews does raise the question about whether men's attitudes toward care influences policy more and is somewhat detrimental to the overall care of people with dementia, including Alzheimer's.

Women are more concerned with front line care and the real experience of having dementia. She believes that practical solutions may be missed because personal outlook of male policy makers may result in an unconscious or even politically motivated bias that paints a rosier picture of the disease and how to care for people with it.

Continue Reading