Gender Differences in Dementia Spousal Caregiving

Int J Alzheimers Dis. 2012;2012:162960. doi: 10.1155/2012/162960. Epub 2012 Sep 30.
Gender differences in dementia spousal caregiving.
Pöysti MM, Laakkonen ML, Strandberg T, Savikko N, Tilvis RS, Eloniemi-Sulkava U, Pitkälä KH.


The Social Insurance Institution of Finland and Unit of Primary Health Care, Helsinki University Central Hospital, P.O. Box 20, 00014 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.


The proportion of male caregivers is rapidly increasing. However, there are few large scale studies exploring gender differences in the burden or coping with caregiving. We investigated this among caregivers of patients with dementia. The study cohort consisted of 335 dyads of wife-husband couples from two studies including dementia patients and their spousal caregivers.

Baseline mini-mental state examination (MMSE), clinical dementia rating scale (CDR), neuropsychiatric inventory (NPI), cornell depression scale and charlson comorbidity index (CCI) were used to describe patients with dementia, Zarit burden scale and geriatric depression scale were used to measure experienced burden and depression of caregivers. Mean age of caregivers was 78 years. There were no differences in depression, satisfaction with life, or loneliness according to caregivers’ gender.

Male caregivers had more comorbidities than females (CCI 1.9 versus 1.1, P < 0.001), and the wives of male caregivers had a more severe stage of dementia than husbands of female caregivers (CDR, P = 0.048; MMSE14.0 versus 17.7, P < 0.001). However, the mean Zarit burden scale was significantly lower among male than female caregivers (31.5 versus 37.5; P < 0.001). Lower education of male caregivers tended to be associated with less experienced burden.


In conclusion, male caregivers of dementia experienced lower burden than female caregivers despite care recipients’ more severe disease.

PMID: 23056990 PubMed Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine