Support for Male Caregivers
Typically, male caregivers aren’t who comes to mind when thinking about caregivers.
Although middle-aged women most commonly take on this role, a report from AARP found that men now make up 40% of the country’s 40 million caregivers, up eight percent since 2012.
Differences Between Female and Male Caregivers
Male and female caregivers share many similarities, such as feeling like they have little choice about assuming their roles, developing health problems and depression, or managing finances, medical, and personal care (e.g., eating, bathing, dressing, etc.).
However, men might feel more uncomfortable about personal care like toileting and are less likely to talk to others about their anxieties or responsibilities.
While anyone might find hands-on tasks like giving baths difficult, personal care might be more challenging for those with less childcare experience, like changing diapers or bathing.
Men generally favor care management rather than implementation. For instance, a man responsible for his spouse’s care might be more inclined to hire a caregiver, rather than provide it himself.
Additionally, men turn to practical answers to caregiving obstacles, whereas women treat the emotions of why care is required.
An example would be a man signing an aging parent up for Life Alert or other remote technology, instead of something more hands-on.
All too often, male caregivers aren’t just overlooked within their families but are also much less likely to seek support.
This could partially stem from stereotypes about men being strong and independent. It could also be because some male caregivers view their responsibilities not as caregiving, but as helping a loved one who needs it.
Because of these reasons and others, most men acting as a loved one’s primary caregiver receive very little preparation–if any–for their new role.
The lack of training can leave many feeling unprepared for more challenging duties like nursing, giving medicine, or intimate personal care.
And since men generally don’t look for the necessary assistance required for caregiving, they can become more vulnerable to issues that affect them physically, mentally, and emotionally.
So how can male caregivers get the right support to care for themselves and their loved ones if they don’t recognize themselves as caregivers?
Groups like AARP and the Ad Council are working to change the mentality many male caregivers have about their role.
They created a Caregiver Assistance campaign explicitly geared toward men placed in this position. The commercial below, which features Danny Trejo, was their first PSA.
Trejo, a traditionally masculine figure, explains that “caregiving is tougher than tough.” Messages like these are crucial for helping more men seek the necessary support and identify as caregivers.
Crunching the Numbers: Statistics About Male Caregivers
According to AARP’s survey:
- 49% of men felt they had no choice in taking on their role as caregivers. This number rose to 60% when it came to caring for a partner or spouse.
- 62% found it necessary to assist with personal care and secondary tasks, and 54% found it difficult to help with more intimate responsibilities
- 56% of caregivers assisted with medical and nursing duties (75% for those caring for a spouse). 47% helped give medication or injections, but 72% reported having no prior training.
- 63% of male caregivers report being the primary caregiver. Of this percentage, 52% had additional help, but 78% received no outside support.
- The average age of male caregivers is 26.9, although the average age of adult children caring for an aging parent is 46.4. Men who care for a spouse are an average of 62.5 years old.
- 66% of men work 40 hours a week. 62% of this group had to make special arrangements for work. 48% were tardy, left early, or took time off to handle caregiving duties. 15% had to take a leave of absence or work part-time.
- 37% refrained from telling their employer about their caregiving responsibilities. For millennials, that rose to 45%.
- 52% of male caregivers anticipate caring for someone in the following five years.
- 62% state their responsibilities to be stressful, 46% report physical strain, ad 44% experience financial stress.
Tips for Preventing Caregiver Burnout
Caregiver burnout can happen to anyone regardless of their gender. Just because men are less likely to express feelings of overwhelm or stress doesn’t mean they don’t need support.
Men can become depressed, and those who place a spouse with dementia in a nursing home are more likely to experience it.
Encouragement and insight can go a long way to benefit male caregivers. If you know someone (man or woman) responsible for someone else’s care, here’s how you can help:
- Join a support group. There are many options available for in-person or online support groups. Not only can caregivers share their experiences, but they can get valuable insight from others in similar situations.
- Practice self-care. Taking care of yourself might be the last thing on your to-do list, but when you practice self-care, you are better able to take care of others. Eat a balanced diet, exercise routinely, and try to get quality sleep regularly.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Whether you need to ask other relatives to pick up duties or talk to your doctor about your health, just do it. Male caregivers often have a difficult time reaching out when they need it the most. But having other people ready to assist can benefit everyone involved in caring.
- Consider respite care. Taking a break from caregiving might be tough, but there are options available that may help. Non-profits like Well Spouse Association offer retreats for caregivers to take a break and recharge. Even giving yourself an hour each night (or once a week) goes a long way.
Resources for Male Caregivers
As more people come to recognize just how many men provide care for loved ones, so will support.
Here are three resources for male caregivers:
When you need a break, a qualified in-home care worker from MeetCaregivers may be just what you need.
Reach out to us online or on the phone today and learn how you can provide your loved one with the care they need while you recharge and rebalance.
Call (888) 541-1136, or send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more.
For more information and resources about senior health and safety, visit the Blog.
- Accius, Jean. Breaking Stereotypes: Spotlight on Male Family Caregivers. AARP Public Policy Institute, 2017, https://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/ppi/2017-01/Breaking-Stereotypes-Spotlight-on-Male-Family-Caregivers.pdf.
- “For Male Caregivers.” For Male Caregivers |, caregivers.web.unc.edu/for-male-caregivers/.
- Ianzito, Christina. “Male Caregivers and How to Support Them in Caregiving.” AARP, 4 Apr. 2017, www.aarp.org/caregiving/life-balance/info-2017/hidden-male-caregiver.html.
- Tucker, Jennifer. “The Differences Between Male and Female Caregivers.” Verywell Health, Verywell Health, 5 Sept. 2019, www.verywellhealth.com/the-differences-between-male-and-female-caregivers-197369.
- Williams, Susan. “Caregiving: Tough Enough for a Man.” Atlas of Caregiving, 15 May 2017, atlasofcaregiving.com/caregiving-tough-enough-man/.