My friend’s elderly father provided years of home care to his wife before her advancing Alzheimer’s required an outside placement. Then, for several more years, he made daily trips to feed his wife and hold her hand at the nursing home. If you know a father or husband like this, then you know someone who deserves special recognition today.
Male caregivers have specific needs but many don’t like discussing the emotional aspects of their role in mixed-gender company. According to a poll done by AARP and NORC, men who are caring for spouses may also face more stress than other types of caregivers. Lynn Feinberg, a caregiving specialist at AARP, says that people caring for a spouse tend to get less help from family and friends — compared to adults caring for their parents. A second factor common to those caring for a spouse is their older age. According to the NORC poll, the average age of spousal caregivers is 67 — for parent caregivers it’s 58.
Back in 1999, men comprised less than 25% of caregivers. But a study on Caregiving in the USA done by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. found that today about 35% of caregivers are male. The increase in male caregivers has prompted a surge in the number of male caregivers attending support groups.
Some healthcare providers are planning ahead to design better support services for the growing number of men who will need them. In Florida, Hospice by the Sea is looking at the needs of male caregivers as part of research on workplace caregiving funded by United Healthcare. Their findings will provide the groundwork for developing more effective initiatives to support men.
We may wait years to find out what the social scientists have to say, so let’s do something today. Make it a point to send Father’s Day hugs to the valiant men you know. We’re in this together and, guys, you are very special!