Men Stepping Up as Family Caregivers

senior man caring for his sick wife

In today’s world, family caregivers come from all sorts of backgrounds. In decades past, the family caregiver role was almost entirely filled by middle-aged women. But now, more and more young people are choosing to take care of elderly or sick loved ones at home, rather than sending them to long term care facilities. And the most recent research from AARP has found that about 40 percent of caregivers — about 16 million people — are male.

Whether this is a husband helping his wife, a son helping his mother or father, or a grandson caring for grandma or grandpa, there are plenty of challenges to taking on the role. From the stress of stacks of medical bills to the emotional toll caregiving extracts, it’s not a job for the weak hearted. And for men, the stressors can be particularly challenging.

Financial Woes

One of the reasons this role has typically fallen to women is that historically in our society, women are seen as nurturers while men are providers. For many men, their self worth is still largely tied to their ability to provide for their families financially. Yet when a loved one falls ill or is incapacitated, they may have to cut back on work hours or quit working altogether.

Fortunately for many, the rise in telecommuting jobs is allowing a number of these men to maintain their roles as caregiver and provider simultaneously. If your employer allows it, remote work may be a way to keep up with financial needs while allowing you to remain on hand should your loved one need you. If this is not an option and you have to quit your job or retire early, there are many part-time remote jobs available online. For those who cannot manage both work and caregiving, there may still be financial resources available to you.

Mr. Fix-It

Another typical male response to problems or difficulties is to try to “fix it”. But when caring for a loved one with a chronic illness or handling end-of-life care, there are no fixes. Often the best you can hope for is that their condition remains the same. But in many cases, their health is likely to continually decline. For a lot of men, this can feel like a major failure, even if they objectively know that there’s nothing they could have done.

While there may be no way to “fix” a loved one’s health, there are support options out there to help caregivers deal with the stress and feelings of failure. Seek out local support groups for family caregivers. If there are no groups in your area or your situation doesn’t allow you to attend regular meetings, online support groups might be a good option. While sharing feelings may be difficult, often the ability to open up to others in the same situation can be life-changing.

Juggling Family Life

In a lot of households, the wife is in charge of managing family schedules and juggling a myriad of responsibilities in the home. But if she is incapacitated by illness or injury, the husband may have to take on this role quite suddenly. And he has to add her medical care and appointments to the usual chaos of family life. It can be an overwhelming task for even the best multitasker.

man with son getting care at home

Fortunately, there are ways to make this momentous task a bit easier. One great solution is to have the family’s medical care delivered for urgent health problems. DispatchHealth’s qualified medical teams will bring advanced care right to your home, so you can take care of the normal day-to-day concerns without throwing off the whole family’s schedule. They’ll handle almost anything your local emergency room (ER) can, including injuries, illnesses, and urgent treatment for ongoing medical concerns like hypertension or diabetes. And since they’ve partnered with all of the leading insurance companies, a visit typically won’t cost any more than a trip to your local urgent care clinic.

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About the Author
DispatchHealth Staff The DispatchHealth blog provides tips, tricks and advice for improving lives through convenient, comfortable healthcare.