The average caregiver comes as little surprise. The majority of caregivers are women. On average, they are right around 50 years old. And overwhelmingly, these women are caring for a parent or other close family member.
But it isn’t a “woman” job. And studies show it’s changing as the population continues to age. Men increasingly are taking on the responsibility of caregiving, and they do so in different ways.
Men Are Managers
When men approach a problem, they look for a solution. They look at a project and attempt to manage it in the most efficient way. So it’s of little surprise that they similarly manage caregiving. They look at caregiving as a project with pieces that can be farmed out to those who have the greatest skills. Men are more likely to hire from outside sources and accept help when asked. If they don’t have experience with something, they’ll be happy to find someone who is.
Men Are Solution-Based
Men tend to tackle one detail at a time. Men look at things emotionally and look for well-rounded solutions. Maybe that’s why men ask for help more often than women. When small details come upon a male caregiver’s radar, they Google it, seek out resources for answers, ask more questions to those around them. They evaluate to find a solution.
Men Are Doers
Give a male caregiver a task, and he’ll gladly jump in. Ask a male caregiver about his feelings and stressors, and he’s less likely to share. Male caregivers aren’t as likely to open up to other family members, friends, or co-workers about their struggles. They are more likely to internalize what’s happening in their lives and have stress-related medical problems to show for it.
Of course, there are more subtle differences, depending on who is being cared for. Men will approach caregiving for a spouse differently than they would for a mom or dad.
But just like women, men can benefit most by reaching out and building a social community around them during this process. To stay away from burnout, include:
Joining a support group either in person or online. Get specific, so you can find people experiencing similar events.
Taking care of yourself. Continue going to the health club and working out. Find ways to eat healthily and keep your weight in check.
Asking for help when you need it. No question or request is too small. If you need help, find someone who can help you reach the solution you need.