Caring for family is a job that often defaults to women. In some cultures, it is a tradition that is discussed from an early age. In other cultures, it is an unspoken norm that is tucked away until it becomes a reality.
As cultures evolve, these default settings are changing. It is no longer unusual for a man to step up and provide care for family. We live in a time of paternity leave and stay at home dads. There are also many families with single dads or even two dads. It is a new era that offers a more dynamic reality of care. Each unique caregiver can offer something that cannot be replicated by anyone else. A man like Ken (in the story above) is an incredible caregiver for his wife. He is able to manage his role, because he has savings. It is what he has chosen to do. He also has respite from our wonderful friends at Saint Elizabeth.
In a recent story, Forbes referenced surveys indicating that the number of male caregivers has “risen rapidly, driven by a combination of factors, including the recession, changing gender expectations and longer life expectancies”.
On October 4th, Donna Thomson of The Caregivers’ Living Room interviewed Scott McNabb, the Executive Director of Homewatch CareGivers Canada. “This organization is unique in hosting ‘The Male Caregiver Community‘, an online support forum for men who give care to their loved ones. Like many other passionate professionals in the caregiving field, Scott is a former caregiver himself. After learning difficult lessons from the front lines of caregiving, Scott wanted to help others, so he quit his job as an insurance executive and traded the board room for the living room,” explained Donna.
In another story in The Star Tribune, the Vice President of Homewatch Caregivers discussed the learning behaviour of male caregivers, “One of the things we know about men is that they will go to the Internet more as a caregiving resource, but they are less likely to get caregiver training,” Tucker said. “If they’re less willing to seek it out, let’s make sure that they have a male caregiver community where they can post, read articles, get referrals and have resources.”
It is wonderful to see an increasing number of online communities and conversations about male caregivers. The video below is another example of men connecting and discussing their experiences caring for family. It is refreshing how straight up these men are about their experiences. It is extremely valuable to hear these authentic stories being told by men, because it can help normalize the process of communicating and expressing their experiences.
According to a 2013 Caring.com survey of male caregivers, shopping for food and personal care items, attending medical appointments, managing finances or paying bills, communicating with friends and family about a loved one’s condition, providing transportation, and administering and/or tracking medications top the list of most common duties. As we have mentioned in previous posts, Tyze makes it easier to give and receive help with caregiving. Tyze has been specifically designed to improve communication while helping to manage all of the tasks listed above. Research has proven that help with caregiving increases when you are plugged into a personal Tyze network.
It is valuable for there to be a more diverse and realistic representation of caregivers in the media and online. There are billions of us all over the world. We are extremely diverse and yet, we have so much in common.