Help for Men
Who Are Caregivers
In many ways, today’s
male caregivers are pioneers, playing a much more active — and
sometimes primary — role in caring for a loved one.
Historically, a wife, daughter or daughter-in-law was most
likely to be the family caregiver. In their formative years, men
weren’t necessarily taught how to provide the kind of help a
care-receiver needs. It wasn’t expected that they would learn it or
Now that continues to change. According to a 2009 report by the
National Alliance for Caregiving in collaboration with AARP, a third
of family caregivers are men.
No doubt, like their female counterparts, they’ve quickly
discovered caregiving can be one of the most challenging times of
But, at the same time and generally speaking, it can be
different for a man who’s helping his spouse, aging parent, or other
loved one. Harder to provide personal assistance, like bathing or
dressing. Harder not to have “the answer” and not to be able to
“just fix” the problem or problems. Harder to admit to others he’s
at the end of his rope. Harder to ask for help.
With that in mind, here are a few suggestions and points to
consider if you’re a male caregiver:
--Boot camp, raising kids and surviving for years in the
workplace “jungle” may seem like walks in the park compared to what
you’re doing now.
--Yes, caregiving can be lonely but, no, you don’t have to go
it alone. Look into respite care. Even a few hours a week can make a
big difference. Consider what formal and informal help may be
available. (Formal would be a visiting healthcare worker or adult
day center, for example. Informal could be family, friends and
--You may have never been much of a joiner or “sharer” (more
the loner, tight-lipped Gary Cooper type of fellow), but you may
find a support group very helpful. Some groups are “guys only.” Some
focus on a particular issue, such as Alzheimer’s disease or cancer.
--It’s OK if there are some things you just can’t do. Maybe
it’s personal care. You can hire someone to help with that. Then,
too, even if there are things you can do maybe your time is better
spent with your care-receiver. Again, it may mean hiring someone
(for that cooking and cleaning, for example) so you can spend more
time doing something pleasant with your loved.
--Realize that you may already be grieving. Because of
dementia, Mom or Dad is slipping away. Because of your wife’s
illness, the retirement hopes and dreams the two of you had just
aren’t going to be possible.
--Do something fun just for you. At first glance this may seem
selfish but it will help you become a better caregiver. (And,
certainly, if you and your care-receiver’s roles were reversed,
you’d want that person to take a break and do something he or she
--Begin or deepen your spiritual side. Be aware that, in the
midst of it all, the God who asked you to help his beloved son or
daughter is always with you. Always.
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