This weeks diverse alz chat was about men as carers, asking what the big deal is, or if in fact there even is a deal?
We were all agreed that for us caregiving isn’t a gender issue. And that it is generally a false perception of how women are “nuturing” and men are not that is causing the deal. Women seem to be frowned upon if they do not show their nurturing side, and men seem to be frowned upon if they do show a nurturing side. But is this because people find it hard to separate a “caring” role from the “mothering” role? It is almost like the stigma attached to male nursery nurses, why can’t men care about others?
The male carers involved in the chat don’t a big deal, and that it is more the media or social perception that is causing the “deal”. In the words of one male carer it is something he chooses to do. For those who have a problem with it, that’s their own issue and he won’t let it affect him. Personal care was the first hurdle for many male carers, (I did wonder if this was a gender hurdle, or if seeing an “authority” figure unclothed, or vulnerable can contribute to the hurdle). Again outside perceptions were talked about, especially outside agencies like nurses in hospitals who often question male carers about the need to be there with a female caree during undressing.
Of course like all things in the beginning, coming up against the stigma can be a struggle in the beginning (which could be why so many male carers keep quiet). A reason why it is so important to know there others in a situation similar to yours, and for other male carers to speak up.
Men differ, as we all do. So why do some men fall more easily into a caring role than others? Or is it ingrained in all? How the male was raised is likely to have an impact, for example will how you parent your child impact on how they will treat you in future? If any child is raised in a loving family, with balanced roles and sharing, will they be more suited to caring? One male carer has said that he is proud to return the care that his mother provided for so long for the family, and I think that is what it comes down to. Our elders have done so much caring for us and it’s almost a mark of respect to “pay it back”.
We learned about a male only carers group in Lancashire, for me I felt a bit split about it Some of us agreed it could be seen as separatism, almost encouraging male carers to comply with stigma. But we also agreed that a lot of the time men feel more comfortable sharing issues and concerns with other men, who can give the same viewpoint.
The truth and concluding point is that men and women give different aspects and skills to caring so can learn from each other. And that we all need to open up and share in order to better ourselves and our caring. We can all be great carers if we only know where to look, and get the correct support.
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