Okay, I get it. I’m a 60+-year-old white guy which puts me in a demographic that is clearly out of favor, on multiple fronts. Much of the criticism is well deserved, and some of it is not — but that’s a subject for a whole series of articles in a different blog. My concern today is that as male caregivers, we are often left out of any discussion about caregiving. Male caregivers deserve better!
A Little Recognition Goes a Long Way
In a past post, I explored the increasing prevalence of men in family caregiving roles. According to The National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and AARP’s Caregiving in the U.S. 2020 study, approximately 39% of family caregivers are men. Sadly, based on my unscientific survey, male caregivers get less than 10% of the recognition, concern, and praise I hear or read regularly directed at female caregivers. For example, a recent Fortune Magazine article discussing the impact of the pandemic on caregivers neglects males caregivers almost entirely.
Certainly, women are the predominant caregivers and have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic — I don’t mean to denigrate any of that concern, but let’s not lose sight of the role men play. The transition to a caregiver role can be traumatic for a man, and there are many men who have stepped up to new responsibilities bravely and without question. Not recognizing those actions is rubbing salt in the wound of someone who already feels unprepared and unsupported.
Male Caregivers — This Post is For You!
The point of this article is not to whine about not getting our due — it’s meant as a message to male caregivers that you matter, you play a priceless role in the support of your family, and there are people who recognize, appreciate, and want to support you. The problem is that your stories are not being told. My father gave me a few pieces of advice that have stuck with me and rang true — one of them was, “Don’t be afraid to take credit for the work you have done!” His point was that if you don’t tell your own story, you are easily overlooked and under-represented.
Interestingly, my dad was a family caregiver in his own right long before it became a thing. My mother had a long history of chronic illness and emotional difficulties, and it regularly fell on my dad to take care of her along with me and my sister. He was protective, supportive, and (hands-on) involved with her emotional needs and physical care, all while holding down a demanding executive job. I didn’t fully appreciate the difficulties he faced until I found myself in a similar situation. His generation didn’t talk about these types of things, certainly not to the kids.
Help Me Tell Your Stories
Two of the reasons I started writing about my experiences as a caregiver were to raise awareness of the role men play in caregiving and to provide resources and support for those men. I’m not looking for riches or rewards, I simply want to ensure that men have a seat at the table when family caregiving is discussed. Tell me your stories and help me demonstrate how important male caregivers are to supporting our families and society.
Send me an email and we can discuss writing your story. It will all be confidential, and no names need to be published. Together we can build a library of examples demonstrating the importance of male caregivers and showing other caregivers that they are not alone. Let’s show some care and compassion for ourselves! Male caregivers deserve better!
I’m not putting advertising on this blog or my other blog, One Voice for Reason. I hope that if you appreciate my efforts, you’ll buy me a coffee through my ko-fi account. Simple and safe, any small contribution helps me offset the cost of hosting, etc. And it’s all virtual so we’re automatically social distancing!