More Men are Caregivers Than Ever Before
Just 15 years ago, men made up only 19% of caregivers in America. Today that number is up to 40% according to the National Alliance for Caregivers. There are many factors leading to men assuming the caregiver role including changes in the economy resulting in early retirements and layoffs, the fact that families are no longer living near each other, longer life expectancy, and changing gender role perceptions. With more men stepping up to become family caregivers, it is important to look at how men approach the roll of full time caregiver.
One of the biggest differences we see between men and women caregivers is in the approach to care. Men are fixers. They approach care with a strategic, fix it mentality. They are more likely to list out responsibilities and delegate tasks to ensure the list is completed, while women often feel reluctant to admit they can’t do it all or ask for help.
Much like their female counterparts, male caregivers are likely to face a long list of competing demands for their time and attention. This is especially true if they are still working and must balance the demands of a career with the needs of their loved one. This balancing act is never easy and can lead to a stress and anxiety. One of the best ways to ensure your loved one receives the best possible care while you are at work is to engage the services of an elder care agency.
Elder care agencies provide at home care for individuals who can no longer care for themselves. “At home elder care services make it possible for family caregivers to focus on their work during the day,” explains Larry Meigs, President and CEO of Visiting Angels. “Our professional, compassionate caregivers ensure your loved one has the attention and care they need while you are away. They perform a variety of tasks from meal preparation and light housekeeping to taking your family member to appointments and favorite activities. Your loved one can enjoy the highest quality of life possible with at home care services.”
For male caregivers to avoid burnout, it is important they take time to recharge their batteries. All caregivers, both male and female, need to recognize the importance of taking time to do something for themselves. Exercise, reading, mediation, going to a movie, any activity that gets you away from your responsibilities for a while and lets you focus on yourself and your needs is important. Caregivers need to be cared for too. The more you focus on caring for yourself, the better you can care for your loved one.
Perhaps one of the most challenging obstacles men face as caregivers is the perception that all caregivers are women. Some men report challenges with employers, medical professionals or social service agencies not taking their needs or concerns seriously. Hopefully, these instances are decreasing as the number of male caregivers continues to rise.
Supporting caregivers, both male and female, is so important. Their work is relentless and often under appreciated. It is essential that we all recognize the important role caregivers, both male and female, play.