As they age, men face particular challenges in dealing with a duality of demands: the social and the health ones. In this experience, social relations contribute to generate situations of care or suffering. This is a qualitative research carried out in a rural community of a small municipality of Vale da Luz, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil. Information was produced between December 2015 to September 2016, through daily journal writing and open interviews with 10 chronically ill elderly men. The analytical process was based on Scott's gender and Honneth's recognition concepts. It was evidenced that recognition by love acts as a modulator of biological care in chronic conditions, but it generates suffering by marking invulnerability and partial self-sufficiency in aging. In the area of law, recognition is established by retirement and access to health services. Identities - colonial, working, and German - are categories of esteem, and foster solidarity, especially in situations of illness. Relationships were allied in care, but by distancing men from the masculinity model or by disparaging choices, they caused suffering.
health of the elderly; men's health rural; population health; community health