The image of a caregiver for an aging parent or relative is usually a woman in her 40′s or 50′s who is raising her own children, probably working outside the home, and then trying to care for her aging loved one at the same time. But according to a recent article in the New York Times, more men are serving as caregivers than ever before.
estimate that men make up nearly 40 percent of family care providers
now, up from 19 percent in a 1996 study by the Alzheimer’s Association.
About 17 million men are caring for an adult.
Often they are overshadowed by their female counterparts and faced with
employers, friends, support organizations and sometimes even parents
who view care-giving as an essentially female role. Male caregivers are
more likely to say they feel unprepared for the role and become
socially isolated, and less likely to ask for help.
Whether you are a male or female caregiver, there are some things you should be aware of that will make your role easier:
- don’t be afraid to ask for help and seek support. Local senior centers and hospitals often have caregiver support groups.
- take advantage of respite care – either by having another family member or paid caregiver relieve you for a few hours, or check out the respite care stays available at your local assisted living facility.
- make sure the person you are caring for has signed a Health Care Proxy, HIPAA medical release and Durable Power of Attorney that will allow you to legally perform the work you need to – making health care decisions for them, calling doctors and insurance companies to straighten things out, or helping them with their banking and other financial issues.Also make sure that an alternate has been named in the documents so that if something happens to you, someone else will have the authority to take over. If the documents are several years old, were signed in a different state, or if you just want to make sure everything is in order, contact an attorney to have her review the documents and advise you on any needed changes.