When we think of caregivers, women usually come to mind. However it is becoming increasingly common for men to become caregivers either for spouse or their parents. 65% of seniors rely heavily on family and friends for their care needs.
Women have been providing informal care to their families and friends. Women as caregivers account for $148 billion to $188 billion annually. They are caregivers for their spouses, parents, parents-in-laws, neighbors and friends. Below is the data from Family Caregiver Alliance National Center On Care giving (FOA).
- An estimated 66% of caregivers are female. [Updated Februray 2015]
- The average caregiver is 49 year old woman who works outside the home and provides 20 hours per week of unpaid care to her mother. [Updated 2015]
- Although men also provide assistance, female caregivers may spend as much as 50% more time providing care than male caregivers.
With longer lifespans, adult children of seniors find themselves in a position to fulfill the care giving needs of their parents. The parents may live independently at home but due to the onset of dementia may be unable to live by themselves any more. According to a study conducted by AARP, eight years ago 34% of caregivers surveyed were men. That number has since jumped to 40% of the 40 million Americans caring for a loved one are male.
Care giving whether it’s for a man or a woman can take a toll on a person both physically and emotionally. They are both more prone to health problems such as depression than non-caregiver individuals. However, there are some differences when it comes to care giving.
1. As said earlier, care giving can take a toll on a person. Women by nature talk about their feeling more openly may be to their family or friends. Men on the other hand do not like to discuss or share their inner feelings. They may keep care giving frustrations and difficulties to themselves.
It’s vital for male caregivers to understand that they shouldn’t keep those feelings inside and that it’s ok to ask for help.
2. Men who haven’t had much experience in child rearing department, find it difficult to provide personal care for their loved one. Tasks such as bathing, dressing and toileting may seem especially hard. Those who feel it’s stressful to provide personal care for their loved ones can opt for professional caregivers. They are available and they can provide assistance with personal care. Again it’s perfectly alright to ask for help in such situations.
3. Join a support group. Spending some time with people who are in the same situations can help tremendously for the caregivers. Whether it’s meeting up for a coffee or an activity, sharing their feelings may provide a sense of not carrying the care giving burden alone.