„It's God-Awful, but You Have to Deal with It.“ - Individual Patterns of Action and Interpretation Among Older Male Caregivers

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 16:15
Location: Hörsaal 42 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Anne MUENCH, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Germany
When asked about retirement, especially older men often report of freedom and their plans how to catch up with things they couldn’t do during work life. Thus first associations with life in retirement are usually pretty positive. But what does it look like, if the individual plans for retirement cannot be realized? Apart from factors like a weak financial situation or health problems it is mainly the situation of becoming a caregiving relative that can change the life in retirement very strongly. And while there is already a growing scientific discourse about professional care work in ageing societies and general gender aspects within this field, so far, only little attention is paid to the situation of older men whose spouses are in need of care.

This contribution takes up this topic and presents preliminary findings from analyzing individual patterns of action and interpretation among older male caregivers with regard to the meaning of gender roles and male identities for their daily care practices. The methodological framework of the study consists of problem-centered interviews that are analyzed based on Grounded Theory. Even though the process of iterative theory-development is not finished yet, so far our analyses have already shown narrative constructions of a certain role-migration older men have to deal with when starting to care for their spouses. And although the decision to take responsibility for the daily care practices is framed as a matter of course, there seem to be specific limits of care that are connected to gender identity and the role allocations that have been practiced within the relationship before the wife became in need of care.