|From The Program Director|
Men and Caregiving. Sounds almost oxymoronic, although studies show the numbers of men providing care to a relative has increased. Even so, our reports tell us only 20% of our callers to the Helpline are men. Too many are suffering needlessly, stoically bearing the powerful feelings of loss, frustration, anger, regret, love and sadness that are a part of the emotional life of an Alzheimer’s caregiver.Reflecting on the men I have known who have provided care, there are a range of experiences:
Paolo said going to the support groups and education meetings, learning about the progression of the disease, understanding what was expected helped him survive. He was still profoundly sad, but he was surviving.
Mark met other sons who helped him understand his situation, and learned about care options and residential care facilities from the Chapter and his support group members.
We know some men are uncomfortable in the caregiving role. Sons who find it too painful to see a mom or dad decline often pull away, leaving the caregiving responsibilities to a sister or sister-in-law. They might help with the information gathering, or legal and financial planning, but they can’t participate in caregiving. I urge you not to judge them too harshly, and to see this behavior as a reflection of the depth of their pain.
Instead, we wish they would call us. Talking to a caring professional who understands does help. We help develop strategies to care for a relative, and to live with the sadness and disappointment. We help the family caregiver survive and, as an outcome, perhaps even thrive. As a caregiver once told me, “I didn’t know I had it in me. My wife was always the care provider. She would gladly do this for me. I owe it to her and to us, to do this for her. ”
We can help. Call us at 1-800-272-3900, 24 hours a day.
Note: Names and details have been changed to protect the privacy of our clients.
— Jed Levine
Executive Vice President,
Director of Programs & Services