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Male Carer’s-What’s The Big Deal?

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.

For outside information take a look at:

Michael Fassio
dementiachallengers (http://www.dementiachallengers.com/page61.php),
Betty Kramer
and Amehurst


2 thoughts on “Male Carer’s-What’s The Big Deal?

  1. Thank you for taking the time to put this together, I believe its a very important contribution in the process of raising consciousness of the fact that, regardless of gender, caring for an elderly relative with dementia is increasingly becoming the new normal.
    My Grandmother wasn’t diagnosed with dementia until years after she had been displaying the symptoms (something we know now but didn’t know then, only 25 years ago). My Grandfather found ways (I believe) to hide her condition by conspiring with her confabulations for many years, years that he was completely alone, with no support and not asking for any, nor (I can only guess, because it was never spoken of) any real idea of what was happening. When my parents finally understood what was going on it fell to them to adopt the role of primary carers, and I witnessed the steep learning curve from incomprehension and (sometimes) understandable annoyance to the attitude of compassion that we now know is appropriate.
    Men and women have been dealing with the issues we discuss and record now for centuries, ever since expected lifespans routinely topped 55. What has changed is families are smaller, so the burden of care cannot be shared in the same way it would have been when this condition was known as ‘senility’, and, for this generation in particular, being single when the condition affects your own parents is far more probable. Unlike many other things, the stigma attached to dementia in the past means we have few templates to apply to the present. What is encouraging is that today the necessary knowledge is being shared and recorded, and these online conversations are an essential part of defining that experience so that ours may be the first generation to record those things that only recently were hidden as dark family secrets.
    The #dementiachallengers community is providing invaluable guidance for those that come after us; our own children, whom we live only to protect, and who may well have to care for us in the future.

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