The Hardest Job a Man May Ever Have
Learning to Seek Help and Support continued...
But the experience led him to a new career: he and his mother
publish a bimonthly caregivers magazine. He says that when he started his
publication he estimated that about 15% of caregivers are men but now he thinks
that it more likely that 20%-25% of caregivers are men.
Men, says Barg, often have a difficult time adjusting to the
role, but he says it may be easier to be a caregiver for a partner or spouse
than for a parent. "When it comes to changing diapers or bathing, it is
very difficult for a man to visualize doing this for his mother," says
Barg. But he says, too, that men are changing because society is changing.
Younger men are more comfortable in nurturing roles than their fathers
"Being a caregiver is probably easier for a man who is 30
to 50 than it is for a 50- to 80-year-old man," he says.
But regardless of age, Barg thinks that men may be particularly
vulnerable to the depression associated with the 24/7 job of caregiving. He
says that even a cursory scan of chat rooms will turn up ample evidence of
Caregiving can be overwhelming, which can often trigger
depression, says NFCA founder Suzanne Mintz. So it is especially important for
caregivers -- both women and men -- to seek help, usually by arranging
respite care, meaning a person who takes over for the caregiver for a specified
number of hours. Respite care can be arranged through local or national
agencies, and for those lucky enough to qualify, respite care is paid for by
state or federal programs. In Duckett's case, the nurse from the local hospital
helped him arrange for respite care "and eventually I qualified for 100
hours a month," he says.
But even with the help of respite care, the years of intense
caregiving have taken a physical toll from Duckett; he developed heart problems
at the same time that his wife's illness progressed to point where caring for
her at home was no longer possible.
Both sad and determined, Duckett seems to speak for many men
when he says, "She is in a nursing home now. I know I am going to lose her.
I can't stop that. But I'm doing all that I can to get help for other
caregivers, especially men."
There are several resources available for caregivers. They
Alzheimer's Association, http://www.alz.org/caregiver;
Family Caregiver Alliance, http://www.caregiver.org;
National Alliance for Caregiving, http://www.caregiving.org;
National Association for Home Care, http://www.nahc.org;
National Caregiving Foundation, http://www.caregivingfoundation;
National Family Caregivers Association, http://www.nfcacares.org;
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, http://www.nhpco.org;
National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities,
National Mental Health Association, http://www.nmha.org;
National Stroke Association, http://www.stroke.org;
Rosalynn Carter Institute National Quality Caregiving Coalition,
The Well Spouse Foundation, http://www.wellspouse.org.