When you think of typical family caregivers, you often picture women. The idea of the eldest daughter caring for her aging parents comes to mind. As a social worker with well over 20 years of experience, I have noticed that the face of the caregiver has changed, and I am seeing more and more men in this role. In fact, AARP states that over 40 percent of caregivers today are men.
These men are no different than women in similar roles in that they are thrust into an unexpected role due to their loved one's chronic or serious illness. Many of these men are finding themselves in a new environment of coordinating services and providing physical care. Unlike women, men tend to have more reluctance in providing physical care to a family member and are more likely to hire out for this type of help.
When they are feeling overwhelmed and stressed by their caregiving journey, men are less likely to reach out to support groups or counselors that have traditionally catered to women. Many men who are in caregiving roles feel isolated as they strive to keep their family caregiving responsibilities private. While they may seek one-on-one peer support such as a close work or personal friend, men often feel as though they need to remain strong in the face of their difficult role, especially in front of their own children.
What isn't different between men and women caregivers is the stress and challenge of juggling work, caregiving responsibilities, and immediate family needs. Men, however, may not identify themselves with the term "caregiver" when they are performing the very same tasks that women do in the same role. They tend to view themselves as a "good spouse" or "a loving son" when completing tasks.
In this video, we are given further perspective on the roles men and women have experienced in their caregiving journey.
If you are caregiving for a loved one and would like to get connected with others in our community who are walking the same path, join ABC11's Caregivers Corner moderated by Nicole Clagett. The group has 1900+ people supporting one another and sharing wonderful information and resources daily. More helpful tips about this topic can be found on ABC11's Caregivers Corner section.