A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a long-time friend of mine who had been caring for his elderly mother. My blog entry was also about how FirstLight Home Care is meeting the needs of aging America, and an unfortunate lack of awareness surrounding caregiving options.
This week however, I want to circle back to the fact that my friend Dave* (a male obviously) was in a caregiver role for his mom. Dave* is not alone in having that title. According to a National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA) survey, 44% of caregivers are men. Yes, I said 44%, and yes I said men. Are you surprised by that statistic? I will admit that I was slightly surprised to find out that almost half of all caregivers in the United States are men. Yet at the same time, I had a sense of great pride (for my own gender).
In past generations, the role of caregiver so often fell to women that many people just assume that it’s a gender specific job. Take a look at the nursing industry for instance. It’s only been in recent decades that the idea of a male nurse has become much more common place. And, you will find more and more men filling the role of “stay-at-home-dad.” I love to hear about old ways of thinking being thrown by the wayside.
There are many situations that require men to be caregivers as well. It’s not always an elderly parent that necessitates men to step up. We are hearing about and seeing more cases of spousal care due to Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease and multiple sclerosis just to name a few debilitating diseases. Just today I read an article in USA Today that stated male caregivers for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients has risen from 19% – 40% in the last 15 years. This is a huge increase, and once again, it makes me proud to know that my fellow males are bucking any stereotype that is left for the caregiving role.
I also recently read an article that touched on the fact that many times people don’t really see the person who is pushing the wheelchair. Who are these kind hearts that balance checkbooks, clean homes, bathe, dress and dispense medicine for and to those in need? These kind-hearted people are just that…people too. People that I’ve come to find out include 44% of men. So the next time you see a male caregiver, maybe give him a kind word or two. But regardless of gender, caregiving is a huge responsibility and commitment. My hat goes off to all 42 million of you across the country who care for loved ones!
If you need help with care-giving for a loved one, visit the FirstLight Home Care website at www.firstlighthomecare.com for the caregivers nearest you.
* Name changed for privacy purposes.