Men Caring for Parents

Men who are caring for parents are a growing group.  Forty percent of all family caregivers are men, up 19% from 1996.  The common caring for parents, caregivers, caregivingperception is that caregiving is relegated to sisters, wives and daughters. Many more men are caring for parents as society and family roles change.

Men face the stress of trail blazing a new role.  They must combat the stereotype that they are not nurturers.  The lack of support men feel can make being a parent care provider even more difficult

Men are more likely to keep their caregiving role to themselves especially in the workplace.  Worried about being perceived as less dedicated than other employees they may not confide their situation to their supervisor and are less likely to use senior assistance programs offered by their employers.

In our society, men are encouraged to be problem solvers. The declines associated with caring for parents can be very frustrating and add another layer of stress to the experience.

How you can cope with the special challenges of being a caregiving son, brother or husband?

  • Build a support network of people you can confide in. Connect with other men who are caregiving and share your values that caring for parents is an important responsibility.  Lack of role models and the male perspective in elder care can be daunting, so build extra support for yourself.
  • Focus on maintaining your physical and emotional well being.  Exercise, eat  right and taking regular breaks from your parent care responsibilities.
  • Trust your caregiving instincts. Providing senior assistance is likely a new experience for you.  You may be getting feedback from others that they find your role as caregiver unexpected.  When this happens, remind yourself that your best qualifications for the job are love and commitment to the well being of your family member.
  • Learn about resources that can help you care for your relative. By leveraging your caregiving duties with outside senior assistance, you can provide better care and prevent caregiver burnout

In a recent New York Times article, men caring for parents were interviewed.

Read the article to hear what they had to say.

Share your stories.  What are the unique caregiving challenges you have faced because you are a man?

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--Janice Wallace

3 Responses

  1. I am an only child, a son and, until she died, a male caregiver to a cognitively impaired widowed mother. The men at a conference at which I spoke about my role begged me to write a book about my experience. Most books about caregiving are written by women. So I did and I'm told that Dementia Diary fills an important niche on the caregiver bookshelf. I am especially concerned about Caregiver burnout, a major issue for those with this awesome responsibility. Don't overlook the role of humor to make things more bearable. Things that made me angry and frustrated when my mother (who had dementia) was alive, in retrospect are filled with funny happenings. My book is filled with anecdotes that will make you roar with laughter. I know that sounds unseemly, but trust me. The many caregivers who read my blog and contact me about my book express gratitude for my permitting the use of humor as a healing balm. Caregivers need all the emotional support they can get. Dementia is a disease that knows no boundaries. It is blind to the categories in which we usually place our fellow human beings. It can occur at the age of 55 or 85. It can happen to Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, Asians, Jews, Christians, Muslims, males and females, rich and poor. It will not spare ex-presidents or ex-prime ministers. It did not spare my mother. Tears are shed by husbands and wives, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters—in fact anyone responsible for the care of a loved one with dementia. Bob Tell, Author Dementia Diary, A Caregiver's Journal
  2. Bob, What you say is so true about using humor and laughter. There were times with my mother when laughing was the only answer otherwise we would have cried all the time. I agree that a lot of funny things happen. Thanks for being part of the movement to recognize ans support men as caregivers by writing your book. The more stories that caregivers share the more we can break down the barriers that make people feel alone. Janice
  3. Thanks for your comment, Janice. Many men don't know where to turn for help. They've been told that caregiving is "woman's work," yet find themselves, as men, suddenly responsible for the care of a parent or spouse. There's a feeling of "this wasn't supposed to happen." It's important for them to receive encouragement and understanding that they are not alone and that the task before them is shared by many other men from all walks of life...AND that they are competent to meet the challenge. Bob Tell, Author Dementia Diary, A Caregiver’s Journal
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