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Shining the Spotlight on Male Caregivers

    • June 27, 2024
    • Community
    • 5 minute read
  • ArchWell Health

If you think the typical caregiver is a woman, you’re right—but just barely. These days, about 40% of America’s 53 million caregivers are men.

Today, millions of men are caring for spouses, partners, aging parents, other relatives and friends. The numbers will just keep growing as the population ages and gender roles shift.

Male caregivers tend to work in the shadows (even more than female caregivers). For Men’s Health Month, ArchWell Health is proud to shine a spotlight on these unsung heroes and the vital services they provide.

Surprising facts about male caregivers

In recent years, researchers have started paying more attention to male caregivers. Here are some things they’ve discovered:

  • The average male caregiver is 47.8 years old, but 28% are Millennials.
  • 63% of male caregivers are someone’s primary source of help.
  • 56% of male caregivers are married.
  • 37% of male caregivers have a college degree.
  • 44% of male caregivers have household incomes under $50,000 a year.
  • The average male caregiver has been in that role for 3.9 years—5.1 years if he’s caring for a spouse or partner.

We’ll come back to that last point later. First, here are a few more facts about male caregivers:

  • Men are more likely than women to manage care (hire a home health worker, for example) instead of provide care themselves.
  • Men are less likely than women to seek emotional support for themselves.
  • Men are more likely than women to look for practical solutions (telehealth, for example).
  • Men are less likely than women to be prepared to start caregiving.
  • Men are more likely than women to wait until a crisis happens before calling in the pros.

So, how do men feel about caregiving? More than 80% say caregiving is as valuable as paid work. What’s more, 91% say men and women should share caregiving responsibilities equally.

The costs of caregiving

As every caregiver knows, caregiving is rewarding, but it comes at a cost. Nearly two-thirds of male caregivers also hold down a paid job. And many find it hard to juggle all their responsibilities. About half have gone to work late, left early or taken time off. Some have even needed to take a leave of absence (15%) or quit working altogether (6%).

Caregiving can have physical and emotional costs. Most male caregivers say caregiving is moderately to very stressful. Nearly half have felt moderate to severe physical strain.

But caregiving also changes men in powerful ways. One study asked men to provide pictures of caregivers. The average man showed photos of female nurses or home health aides. Male caregivers showed photos of themselves and their loved ones or photos of hugs and clasped hands.

Caring for the caregiver

Caregiving is a marathon, not a sprint. If you're a caregiver, you need to care for yourself, too. Here are a few tips:

  • Stay strong. Eat right, exercise several days a week and get plenty of sleep. And keep your own doctor's appointments, especially when it comes to colon cancer prevention.
  • Do things that bring you joy. Keep up with hobbies and other activities you love.
  • Don’t go at it alone. Enlist family members, friends and neighbors to help. Caregiving is a team sport.
  • Take advantage of Medicare Advantage. Many Medicare Advantage plans cover home health, trips to the doctor's office or grocery store, meals and even respite care (in other words, a chance to take a break) for the caregiver.
  • Find a support group. Share your journey with other caregivers, either in person or online.
  • Connect with ArchWell Health. Our centers aren’t just medical centers; they’re community centers that offer everything from art classes to Zumba workouts. And we’re happy to partner with you to care for your loved one. After all, caring for older adults is why we’re here in the first place.

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ArchWell Health, Senior Primary Care

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