Male Caregivers are a Growing Demographic
Male caregivers are more in demand than ever before. With the increase in the number of aging Americans needing and seeking assistance at home, AARP reports an increase in the number of male caregivers. This includes familial (sons) caregivers and hired male aides. According to their research: in 2009, 34% of caregivers who were surveyed were male. Today that number is 40%. With about 40 million Americans caring for a family member (usually a parent), that is 16 million caregivers.
It is a phenomenon which will continue as more families must deal with the care of aging loved ones who most likely are staying at home. Families will need to adjust, American society will have to become more accustomed to seeing a son take care of a mother, and Home Care companies will have to have a greater number of male aides to offer.
It is actually a welcome change as women (daughters) have been over represented in the caregiver role of parents and the added stress is wearing. It makes sense since so many women work, to have the men in the family join in. It is usually done out of necessity. Coincidentally this change in roles also coincides with the economic downturn which found many more men available to manage the caregiver role. In practice, we do come across many sons/brothers who are quite involved with a parent’s care but far fewer who are actually providing the hands on aspects of personal care. Hearing from adult sons who do provide bathing, dressing and toileting assistance to a parent or other loved one usually unnerves others in the audience. This societal view will most likely evolve in the next few years.
Upon a closer look, family is family and often the best intentioned and able to provide care. Look how accustomed we are to single fathers caring for daughters. Around the world sons, nephews or cousins help frail, older relatives and out coming numbers of the Boomer juggernaut into older age will mold and solidify these changes for us. It will be more of an “all hands on deck” approach to elder care within the family.
Male Aides at Home Care Companies
Beyond the family, licensed home care companies will have to focus on attracting and evaluating more male caregivers. Certainly for a male client, an elderly father, having a male aide is a good idea. Beyond the comradery of establishing a rapport around sports or other predominantly male interests, having a male assistant can go a long way in the elder feeling more secure when they have balance, gait issues or need to be lifted. Certainly the spouse must be comfortable and willing to have a male aide in the home for any overnight shifts for her husband. With many Americans also having weight issues some folks will need either two aides or a stronger male aide to safely provide care. For a man, having a male aide can ease the anxiety around the fear of falling. They may also feel more comfortable going out to lunch or the barbershop with a male caregiver. The call is now for companies to acquire more male aides to meet the growing needs of our fathers, husbands, brothers and uncles.