Typically, the task of caregiving falls to women. However, more and more men are taking on caregiving roles, and feel very unprepared for it.
According to the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, about 45% of husbands provide care for wives with dementia while another 30% of sons are also involved in caregiving efforts.
Traditionally, men are still seen as the providers and women as the nurturers. Men are just not as comfortable providing personal care as women are.
For instance, male caregivers may need extra guidance and assistance from other family members or friends with a woman's incontinence and personal hygiene issues. In addition, many male caregivers are learning new skills, such as shopping, cooking, cleaning and laundry, which can be overwhelming.
Men are more task-oriented and seek to solve problems so when a dilemma has no clear solution, they can feel ineffective and, over time, prone to depression.
Men like to use logic and checklists and can become frustrated when the person in his care will not conform to his plan. Recognizing that things will not be “fixed” in Alzheimer’s disease and learning about the disease can help him in the disease journey of his loved one.
Men are also less likely to ask for help and less likely to join support groups to share their feelings and struggles. Finding a specific male caregiver support group, phone or online support can be very beneficial to them. The home-care agency, Homewatch CareGivers, offers an online resource, the Male Caregiver Community, which enables peer-to-peer advice and support on such challenging issues. Another group, the Well Spouse Association, provides similar guidance for a variety of medical and emotional concerns.
Male caregivers are prone to depression, so they need to be watchful about self-care. They tend to become so focused on their loved ones that the ignore their own health, so they need time away from the day-to-day caregiving responsibilities to do things they enjoy.
While men face some unique challenges, they also have some advantages. According to a 2012 study by researchers at Bowling Green State University, men appear to cope with the stress inherent in caregiving better than women.
Questions about Alzheimer's disease or related disorders can be sent to Dana Territo, the Memory Whisperer, owner of Dana Territo Consulting LLC, at firstname.lastname@example.org.