It’s easy to forget how many fathers and sons are immersed in the dementia epidemic. The longer female lifespan gives women more time to develop dementia and, around the world, most caregivers are also female. But the Alzheimer’s Association estimates that the proportion of men serving as caregivers for spouses and other family members has doubled — from 19% to 40% –in the past 15 years.
Men in the caregiver role share many of the same burdens as their female counterparts, but their lives are complicated in different ways. For example, more male caregivers are working outside the home. A report from the National Caregivers Alliance suggests that though men and women devote about the same amount of time to caregiving, 82 percent of male caregivers hold full-time jobs, compared to 70 percent of female caregivers. Since most male caregivers are fully engaged in the paid workforce, more than two thirds of them have to request changes to their work schedule such as going in late, leaving early, or taking time off.
Their wholehearted embrace of technology gives men a small advantage: they’re more likely to use the Internet as a caregiving resource. But since they spend about 19 hours a week on caregiving activities outside of their jobs, these guys are shouldering a lot of weight.
When writing about men who give this kind of support to a wife or mother, a few stellar fellows come to mind. Their contributions as fathers, sons and caregivers add infinite value to their families. They are caring people, to be sure. But they’re also tenacious and when needed will use their horns to protect the people they love. I sincerely hope that someone made them breakfast today and provided at least one hug. Caregivers shouldn’t have to forage for food or appreciation. To the men among us: Happy Father’s Day!