Gender and Elder Care in Japan

Japan's Emerging Male Caregivers

男が介護するということ:家族・ケア・ジェンダーのインターフェス/Male Carers in Japan: Interface of family, care and gender


Mao Saito’s Male Carers in Japan: Interface of family, care and gender explores the role of male caregivers in the context of the Long Term Care Insurance system. The article begins with a review of previous literature on male caregivers. Next, Saito looks at a national survey that was carried out in October 2006. This survey covers many of the same demographics as the Ishikawa survey which I discussed in my previous post.  Much like the Ishikawa survey, the majority of the male caregivers were husbands in their seventies, and over half of them visited a hospital regularly.  The majority of the male caregivers were not employed, most having retired.  The most common household configuration was two member households, the majority of which consisted of an elderly couple.


Additionally, the survey also looks into the daily life activities of the caregivers, including difficulties involving household chores and the caregiving itself. As most of the men said they handled chores such as cooking, laundry and shopping on their own, it would appear that they do not have too much difficulty with these tasks.  When asked which chore was the most difficult for them, the most popular response was “cooking” (43.4%) followed by “sewing” (40%). Many men had trouble with tasks that involved physical contact such as bathing or toileting, and therefore used professional helpers to complete these tasks.  Finally, Saito makes note that the lack of services and support in household and caregiving skill acquisition is the source of a sense of burden and an obstacle in the caregiving process for these men.


Finally, after the analysis of the survey, the article shifts back to analysis of previous literature. This section focuses on literature from America and Europe in order to provide an idea of the range of the research. Saito discusses the course of research on male caregivers of the elderly since the 1980s, which covers the role of life course and career in and the role of caregiver, caregiving and masculinity, and family relations.

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