Women, please take note. If you think that your spouse does not care for your well-being the way you do then you may be wrong, a new study has found.
The findings suggest that men respond to their spouse’s illness just as much as women do and reject previous studies suggesting that female caregivers tend to be more responsive.
“We found that unlike many previous studies on care-giving in later life — male caregivers were just as responsive towards their partner’s onset of illness as female caregivers,” said lead author Laura Langner from the University of Oxford in Britain.
For the study, published in the Journals of Gerontology, Series B, the team involved 538 couples in Germany with an average age of 69, where one of them had developed the need for spousal care, between 2001-2015.
They looked at how caregivers adjusted their hours in response to the new care need — whether directly responding to their physical needs or performing errands and housework.
The researchers found that men increased their care hours as much as women did, resulting in similar levels of care once their partner became ill.
These similarities were particularly pronounced when a spouse was deemed severely ill, then there was little to no difference in the level of care given.
Perhaps surprisingly, when their spouse is severely ill, men also increase the time they spend on housework and errands, more than women, the researchers said.
There were also significant differences in the levels of care given for couples where the spouse was only unofficially seen to be ‘in need of care’.
However, these differences disappeared in homes where no other household help was provided, when regardless of gender, male or female, spouses stepped up to care for each other, the researchers noted.