Hospice Quinte: Changing Lives Podcast

Challenges Men Face as Caregivers

May 30, 2022 Hospice Quinte Season 5 Episode 15
Hospice Quinte: Changing Lives Podcast
Challenges Men Face as Caregivers
Show Notes Transcript

Even though caregiving is often thought of as a role assumed primarily by women, a recent survey found that 44% of caregivers are men.  Like their female counterparts, approximately 3.4 million male caregivers face tremendous challenges as they simultaneously try to balance work and raise a family with the physical and emotional demands of helping an ailing or aging loved one.  Find out more about the challenges men may face as caregivers in this week's Changing Lives podcast.

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You can listen to episodes of "Changing Lives"  on 91x FM each Monday (except for holidays) at 9:05am.  Hospice Quinte is grateful to the support that 91x FM provides in producing the "Changing Lives" podcast.

About Hospice Quinte
Hospice Quinte provides individuals, their families, and caregivers with compassionate end of life care, by attending to their physical, psychosocial, and practical needs, and offering empathetic care to those who are grieving through visiting hospice services and support groups.  All Hospice Quinte programs and services are provided by compassionate, well-trained volunteers and staff at no charge to the individual or their family.  

Hospice Quinte serves a population of over 102,000 in Quinte West, Belleville, Deseronto, Tyendinaga Township and the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. To find out more visit HospiceQuinte.ca.



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According to Statistics Canada, there are more than 7.8 million Canadians or 25% of the population who have provided care for an elderly, disabled, or chronically ill family member or friend during the past year.  Even though caregiving is often thought of as a role assumed primarily by women, a recent survey found that 44% of caregivers are men.  Like their female counterparts, approximately 3.4 million male caregivers face tremendous challenges as they simultaneously try to balance work and raise a family with the physical and emotional demands of helping an ailing or aging loved one.  

Although women still make up the majority of caregivers, more and more men are stepping into the role.  Then why is it we assume men aren’t involved or engaged in the caregiving role?  Most men have grown up in a household -- and certainly in a culture -- in which females have been perceived as the primary nurturers. Yet often by necessity, more men than ever are rolling up their sleeves and helping an ill loved one with day-to-day tasks such as dressing, toileting, bathing, eating, changing dressings, and managing medications.  Some men surveyed referred to these duties as “unfamiliar” and found certain tasks such as caring for someone’s personal or intimate needs as uncomfortable and especially difficult.  Jean Accius, vice president of long-term services at AARP explains that men are less likely to have any previous background performing these activities.  She explains further that men are less likely to ask for help and may be more reluctant to accept it if offered, as traditional male expectations assume men can do it all themselves, therefore asking for help is a sign of weakness.  That may be partly because they tend to distance themselves from the label. “Many men don’t self-identify as caregivers,” Irving says, “they just see themselves as the good husband, son or grandson”.

It has also been said that many men may not have the same comfort or confidence level as women in handling the tasks of caregiving.  To compound the stress in their lives, many men, as do women, find themselves sandwiched between elder care and childcare, and as they juggle work, family, and the needs of an aging parent, their stress and frustration can often turn into anger, despair, exhaustion, and burnout.  

Perhaps one of the most challenging obstacles men face as caregivers is the perception that all caregivers are women. Some men report challenges with employers, medical professionals or social service agencies not taking their needs or concerns seriously. Hopefully, these instances are decreasing as the number of male caregivers continues to rise.  

If you are a man in a caregiving role, what can you do to help yourself?  It is important to find people who you can relate to, who have lived, or are living in similar caregiving roles.  Men especially need to seek out support.  Although the stress and hardships of caregiving are undeniable, the experience isn't necessarily without positives. A study published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry evaluated close to 300 people (more than 30% of whom were men) who were caring for seniors. More than 70% of these caregivers said they were happy in the caregiving role or had positive feelings about at least one aspect of it. Most commonly, they described enjoying the companionship, and the satisfaction of meeting an obligation and providing a better quality of life for the individual receiving care, and the people who report finding positive aspects find it a little less challenging.

While there are unique challenges for both male and female caregivers, caregiving is a human responsibility, not a gendered responsibility.  For caregivers to avoid burnout, it is important they take time to recharge their batteries. All caregivers, both men and women, need to recognize the importance of taking time to do something for themselves. Exercise, reading, mediation, going to a movie, any activity that gets you away from your responsibilities for a while and lets you focus on yourself and your needs is important. Caregivers need to be cared for too. The more you focus on caring for yourself, the better you can care for your loved one.

Hospice Quinte provides individuals, their families, and caregivers with compassionate end of life care, by attending to their physical, psychosocial, and practical needs, and offering empathetic care to those who are grieving through visiting hospice services and support groups.  All Hospice Quinte programs and services are provided by compassionate, well-trained volunteers and staff at no charge to the individual or their family.  We serve a population of over 102,000 in Quinte West, Belleville, Deseronto, Tyendinaga Township and the Tyen-dinaga Mohawk Territory.