Young pretty female caretaker and elderly man on a wheelchair

Caregivers Come In Different Shapes, Sizes, and Sexes

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Male Caregiver caring for aging parents

Caregivers Can Be Men or Women

When we think of full-time caregivers who are caregivers for aging parents, we often tend to think only of women. But that is definitely not the case. My dad was wonderful at helping my mom provide caregiving assistance to several relatives on both sides of the family over a twenty year span. When he retired and she was working, he was the full-time stay-at-home caregiver for many years. We found that he often had an easier time dealing with the women who had dementia than my mom. We weren’t sure if that was due to past relationships or their current illness.

Male Caregivers

I have a dear friend who lived with his step-mom for several years and they both blessed each other with caregiving help at different times when each went through various health problems. He did a wonderful job and ministered to her through to the end.

I have noticed in my research for this site, as well as on my Twitter site, that there are several men writing about caring for aging parents. Even the New York Times has taken note of this. As they point out in their article, “The Alzheimer’s Association and the National Alliance for Caregiving estimate that men make up nearly 40 percent of family care providers now, up from 19 percent in a 1996 study by the Alzheimer’s Association. About 17 million men are caring for an adult.” When I get to heaven, I’ll have to tell my sweet dad he was a genuine pioneer in this area!

Caregiver Isolation

The article goes on to point out that isolation is a common enemy to both men and women caregivers, but it can be harder for men as they often don’t have a community of friends the way many women do. On the other hand, I have found that caregiving can keep us women so busy we can have the same problem. That’s where the internet can be a blessing to both men and women. With Twitter, blogs, chatrooms, etc., all available in the home 24/7, we can find encouragement, information, and friendship even when we might only have a few scattered minutes here or there.

Care Facilities and Male Caregivers

An interesting problem this article mentioned was that care facilities, such as nursing homes, are not always comfortable working with men who are caregivers. They shared an example of  “a son who was the health care agent for his mother and wanted to be in the room when the staff changed her diaper because he was concerned about her skin condition.” This was originally not allowed as they were concerned for the mother’s dignity. It was only after considerable pressure that the staff finally changed their mind and allowed it.

Caring for Aging Parents Checklist

That concept never even came up when my mom and I were caring for my dad. I guess because so many of the Hospice nurses we had were also women, they were used to that. I am curious if that was an isolated issue or a common occurrence.  Now that I am aware that could be a problem, I would make sure that when caring for aging parents of the opposite sex, add that to the list of items they give permission for. That way you are protected in all situations. Right along with copies of Living Wills, Powers of Attorney, DNR (“Do not resuscitate” directives) and other parental permission information forms with you to hospitals, care homes, etc. To that I would now add a specific note that “my caregiver has permission to oversee all aspects of my care including bathing, toiletry, etc.” It seems silly that is necessary, but better safe than sorry.

How Bout You?

When caring for aging parents, have any of you ever dealt with any of these issues, whether you are a male or a female caregiver? Have you dealt with a different set of problems? If so, please send me an email at [email protected] or leave a comment down below. Thank you.

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    • El Struthio
    • November 30, 2008

    The example of the son having to fight to be allowed in the room while his mother’s diaper was changed really struck me. Can you imagine this happening if the roles were reversed – i.e. a daughter being in the same room as her father?

    El Struthio’s last blog post..Six Greasemonkey Scripts For Twitter

    • Care Givers
    • December 18, 2008

    Great post. Very informative.

    • Tim Colling
    • January 5, 2009

    We own a full-service certified home care aide company and the question of caregiver gender comes up for every new client for whom we have the privilege of providing care. One step of our new client assessment / intake process involves asking whether the client and the client’s family have a preference regarding caregiver gender. For many clients and their families, the gender of the caregiver is not as important as the competency and reliability of the caregiver. However, by a small margin the majority of our clients and their families express a preference for caregivers of the same gender as that of the client. Even though we are an equal opportunity employer, Federal and state labor laws allow us to respect the client’s wishes in this regard when the client’s needs include assistance with bathing, toileting or incontinence care.

    • Kaye
    • January 6, 2009

    Good information! Thank you. I am so glad to hear that the laws allow for that. Nowadays, you never can tell 🙂

    Kaye’s last blog post..Frugal Travel Tip for Caregivers: Fly and Rent

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