may imagine a typical family caregiver to be an older woman caring for a
relative and delivering supportive services without pay. Though men are
not typically seen
as caregivers, 40
family caregivers are male.
Around 16 million men—husbands, sons, uncles,
brothers, and close friends—are caregiving for a loved one, and that number is
continuing to grow.
many female caregivers, men are often unprepared and overwhelmed with this role.
More than half of male family caregivers in the Caring
in the U.S. 2015 Survey said it was moderately to very difficult helping
recipients with their personal, intimate care needs – tasks that can be
difficult physically and emotionally for any caregiver, but particularly so for
an adult son caring for his mother or a nephew for his aunt.
to the Journal
of Men’s Studies, male family caregivers are misperceived as performing only financial
and transportation assistance, while women take care of hands-on needs such as
dressing, bathing, and cooking. But evidence suggests that men provide much
more than just that. Researchers in the same report found that a quarter of men
helped their care recipient with eating, bathing, and showering— with 30
percent saying they helped with using the toilet.
In the 2012
Home Alone report, more than half of all male family caregivers were performing
medical and nursing tasks. Those complex medical and nursing tasks include
injections, tube feeding, wound care and administering medication. About 72
percent of all male caregivers say that no one prepared them for those medical
and nursing tasks.
while caregiving can be rewarding, male caregivers also experience similar
physical and emotional strain as women.
AARP’s Niche Report, nearly 62 percent of male caregivers reported their
caregiving experience moderately to very stressful, with half saying they
experienced severe physical strain due to their responsibilities.
they are less likely to open up to others when they feel stressed or
overwhelmed. An AARP
article on male caregivers states that men saw themselves differently
compared to female caregivers in their openness to talk about the strains and
challenges of caregiving.
this is not the case for all male caregivers. Larry, Bobby and Mark each cared
for their mothers and later developed a connection through that shared
don’t know if it’s a guy thing or it’s just the situation of taking care of
your parents,” explained Bobby who cared for his mother for ten years. “It’s
like you don’t understand until you’re in the position.”
met Mark while volunteering at their local temple, and it was Mark who
introduced Bobby to his longtime friend Larry. Soon enough, the three became
close after learning they were all caring for their mothers.
an interview with Keiro, the three friends shared stories about their mothers,
like how Bobby’s mother befriended everyone.
had a good attitude and so we were always joking around, having a good time,” Bobby
explained. The two would go to the local 99 Cents store where he would find his
mother talking to large and intimidating people. “You see these guys with tear
drop tattoos on their eyes, laughing with my mom. She could talk to anyone.”
who was caring for his mother with dementia remembered how kind and patient she
was very polite and she’d sit at the dining table at four in the morning and
not wake me up,” Larry said. He added that when caregivers would prepare meals
for her, she wouldn’t eat very much but “then I’ll cook for her and she’ll eat
a lot. She had a good appetite and she ate very well–lots of vegetables.”
the years, all three men exchanged the moments and triumphs that came from
caring for a parent.
to Bob about my mom on how things are working out and it was very helpful,”
Mark said. “Other than that –guys don’t really talk a lot.”
all three are retired and are no longer caring for their mothers but are still
trying to regain a sense of rhythm in their lives.
get into that routine. The transition can be tough,” Larry said. “Mine was
basically two years and I’m still not back into my normal routine. I still wake
up at 5 o’clock usually.”
while things are still in transition, Larry added that he’s kept busy with new
projects. All three men continue to reach out and connect with one another.
Mark and Larry agreed, adding that they now fill their time volunteering,
traveling, and catching up with old friends.
know these two gentleman were very supportive of me,” Mark said.
while each of their lives have been changed by caregiving for a loved one, they
were able to come out of the experience with a strong friendship.
female, that support network and just being able to talk to someone who
understands is vital for any family caregiver.
Links to Sources Sited on this Article
AARP2015 Caregiver Report: Caregiving in the U.S.https://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/ppi/2015/caregiving-in-the-united-states-2015-report-revised.pdf
Home Alone: Family Caregivers Providing Complex Chronic Carehttps://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/research/public_policy_institute/health/home-alone-family-caregivers-providing-complex-chronic-care-rev-AARP-ppi-health.pdf
The Hidden Male Caregiverhttps://www.aarp.org/caregiving/life-balance/info-2017/hidden-male-caregiver.html
American Journal on Men’s HealthThe Male Face of Caregiving: A Scoping Review of Men Caring for a Person With Dementiahttps://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1557988313519671
National Center for Biotechnology InformationMeeting the Needs of Male Caregivers by Increasing Access to Accountable Care Organizationshttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4785589/
The Journal of Mens StudiesMen Doing “Women’s Work:” Elderly Men Caregivers and the Gendered Construction of Care Workhttps://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.3149/jms.1501.1
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