If you were asked to paint a picture of a typical family caregiver, you’d likely portray a middle-aged woman, perhaps preparing a meal, helping with bathing or getting dressed, or transporting a loved one to medical appointments. And your assessment would be accurate; studies show that throughout Canada, 56% of family caregivers are women, 58% of caregivers who are aged 65 to 74 are women, and 65% of caregivers 75 and older are women.
However, there’s now a growing trend of male family caregivers. And while there are some trending differences in caregiving difficulties between the genders (such as a higher likelihood of discomfort for men in performing personal care tasks), all caregivers, regardless of gender, need a strong system of support.
“Even though they are often hesitant, or less familiar with the territory, many men are now assuming the responsibility of caring for aging parents, ill spouses or spouses with a disability, siblings who require care or friends and lovers in need,” writes Scott McNabb. It’s important for men who are providing care to find peer support, as men as are often reluctant to share their feelings and concerns. Carving out time to enjoy favorite pastimes and hobbies with friends, seeking the assistance of a professional counselor, or joining a caregiver support group are several ways male caregivers can maintain their own emotional and physical health in order to provide the best care for their loved ones.
And if no support system is in place for male family caregivers, one option is to start a new one. One such innovative male caregiver support network was created by several men who unexpectedly found themselves in caregiving roles. The men get together on a regular basis for outings, dinners, or just a cup of coffee and conversation.
Another form of support for male caregivers to consider is to partner with a reputable in-home care agency, like Amy’s Helping Hands, for trusted respite care services that allow for much-needed breaks from care. Call us at 519-915-4370 to learn more.