Male carers of partners with dementia sought for study

A PhD student at the University of Western Sydney Hawkesbury campus seeks participants for research into how men care for family members with dementia. 

Lynne Dowd, a PhD candidate in the School of Science and Health, saw her grandfather struggle to care for his wife, who had dementia, before he passed away.

"No-one in our family knew she was sick, we all assumed she was his primary carer," Ms Dowd said.

‘‘It was only after my grandfather had a fall one night and my grandmother called the police to accuse him of being a burglar when we realised that she had quite advanced dementia.

"My poor grandfather struggled to care for her on his own without saying anything to the family or getting any support. Sadly not long after, my grandmother was admitted to a residential care unit and my grandfather passed away.” 

As a motive to start her research, Ms Dowd will start under the supervision of Professor John Macdonald, director of the Men’s Health Information and Resources Centre. 

“I felt frustrated and saddened by my grandfather’s experience and the more I looked into it, the more I realised his story wasn’t unusual,’’ she said.

Lynne Dowd will research how men care for family members with dementia under the supervision of Professor John Macdonald, director of the Men’s Health Information and Resources Centre, UWS Hawkesbury.

Lynne Dowd will research how men care for family members with dementia under the supervision of Professor John Macdonald, director of the Men’s Health Information and Resources Centre, UWS Hawkesbury.

According to the 2008 Australia Bureau of Statistics, more than half of all carers over 65 are men.

Women tend to live longer which means they are more likely than men to have dementia.

"Almost two thirds of all dementia cases are female that means that among partnered couples, it’s more likely to be husbands that are caring for their wives," Ms Dowd said.

"The problem is that services to support carers don’t tend to reach men and so they struggle on without much support, which is detrimental to their own health.”

Ms Dowd's research will help the community better understand the experiences of men caring for wives with dementia so that services will both appeal to and meet the needs of men.

The study is now recruiting participants.

If you are a male carer, are currently or have previously cared for your wife with dementia and are interested in sharing your experiences as part of the study, contact Ms Dowd on 4570 1718.

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