Men As Caregivers

by Carol Bradley Bursack - Date: 2007-02-15 - Word Count: 492 Share This!

Men are catching up. In the MetLife Study of "Sons At Work" (June, 2003), it was reported that "Men are just as likely as women to report that they are the primary care giver for an older or dependent adult." This study used men in Fortune 500 companies and was likely skewed because of education and finances. But it does point out that more men are becoming caregivers.

The study examined caregiving situations and how they differed between the genders. The report showed that more men than women provided long-distance care, and women were more likely than men to be involved in personal tasks such as bathing, dressing and toileting. Men were more likely to provide services such as managing medications, grocery shopping and transportation.

I've read several different statistical studies. Some studies show one in three caregivers is a man. More recently, I've read one in four. The one-in-four statistic especially struck me, as that is the ratio I used when I wrote "Minding Our Elders" - which was written, for the most part, before these studies. I started out interviewing women, but found myself, when I visited my elders in Rosewood On Broadway, running into a significant number of men. I listened to the men's stories. I found they needed to talk about the load they carried as much as the women did. Maybe more.

After I interviewed Cynthia, a dynamic, talkative woman, she told me, "You have to interview Bill!" Bill is her husband. She told me he'd been through a lot with his mother and that he wouldn't talk about it. I said, "Umm, Cynthia, are you sure Bill wants to talk to me, then? He doesn't even know me." She said, "Don't worry, he will." And he did. Stoic Bill, the engineer/contractor, told me his story. I will never forget when he said, "That was cathartic. You should be a therapist!" I laughed and said that's what many people say after they tell their stories. Actually, I just prodded a little and told their stories, which is what they needed to do. They needed to tell their story to someone who understood what they had gone through. And it was cathartic.

That is why caregiver support groups exist. That is why we blog on Our Alzheimer's. And that is why we invite men to learn what women seem to instinctively know - if you share your load, it becomes lighter. Getting men started (sorry, I'm generalizing and I know it) can be harder, but, I found that once they started talking, they were as eager to dump as any of the women. We are social, spiritual creatures - men and women - and I believe we are meant to help each other. Sharing our stories, and letting others do the same, is one great way to lighten the load. Welcome, gentlemen! We are delighted to hear your stories, and we hope our experiences will help you. Come back often for tips, advice and kindred spirits.

Related Tags: men, family, seniors, caregivers, elderly, aging, elder care, caregiving, eldercare

For over twenty years author, columnist and speaker Carol Bradley Bursack cared for a neighbor and six elderly family members. Because of this experience, Carol created a portable support group - the book "Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories. Her sites and, include helpful links and agencies. Carol's column, "Minding Our Elders," runs weekly, she speaks at many caregiver workshops and conferences and has been interviewed by national radio, newspapers and magazines.

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