How is Caregiving Different for Men?

Men tend to be less prepared. Unfortunately, we still live in a society that often sees caregiving as a female role. From the time women are young, many are taught how to nurture and care for others. This isn’t always the case with men so when they experience a situation where a family member needs care, they are less likely to have the tools and resources necessary to take on the tasks of caregiving. We need to do better and can start by teaching everyone how to care for loved ones as they age. There are typically many opportunities to involve boys and young men in assisting with the care needs of family members and they can learn by seeing their fathers and other males in their lives become involved in nurturing and caregiving activities like parenting or assisting parents and grandparents as they age. These are skills that will serve them well in the future.

Many resources and services, are focused on women. Men are left out of the equation and therefore often don’t even see support services that may be available to them. This can leave men who are already ill prepared, unable to find the support they need to help their loved one who needs care. We forget that sometimes men are the sole caregiver for an aging parent or ill spouse and that they don’t know where to go for help. Community and employer services that help caregivers can expand their marketing efforts to include men and in the process, help eliminate an outdated stereotype that all caregivers are female.

Men aren’t always as comfortable talking about their feelings. We know working caregivers of all genders tend to keep their caregiving responsibilities a secret because they are fearful of their employer finding out they are managing care of a loved one while they are at work. This inability to be open and honest about these stressors tends to be more prevalent with men. Making efforts to reduce the stigma that many feel as caregivers and letting them know they are not alone, is crucial to making sure they are getting the emotional support and assistance they need during what can be an extremely challenging time.

They tend to be more likely to consider hiring help, sooner. Possibly because of the lack of caregiving and nurturing preparation early in their lives, when men find themselves in the role of sole or primary caregiver, they tend to look to hire professional care assistance. This can be beneficial in that it can help minimize stress especially when balancing a career with caregiving. It can also lead to financial concerns and worries depending on the resources available. It is common for caregivers to utilize their own financial resources to help provide care for their loved one and to make adjustments to their time at work, which impacts their earning and saving ability.

Changing the way we view the role of caregiver and who is most likely to take on caregiving duties will create a broader array of resources and support solutions to everyone who is caring for a loved one.