To care for women, men can get help
Q: My wife can no longer care for herself, and I'm uncomfortable helping her with personal care. What advice do you have for male caregivers?
A: Male caregivers account for more than 40 percent of informal care providers; 60 percent of them work full-time outside the home, and an estimated 60 percent care for spouses with dementia or Alzheimer's. More than 40 percent of men use paid assistance for their loved one's personal care, and that can be a good solution to uncomfortable situations, but can also be costly.
Men may cope with the stress inherent in caregiving more successfully than women. Men are more assertive when advocating for loved ones with doctors and hospital staff. But men seek to solve problems, and when a dilemma has no clear solution, they can feel ineffective and be prone to depression.
Here's more advice:
Understand that you aren't "Superman" and can't do it all.
Tell family, friends, and neighbors what is happening in your life; they will empathize and may offer to help.
Educate yourself. Inquire about outside services that can provide assistance, such as caregiver support groups
Recognize that caregiving is not easy. Know that stress, anger, and frustration are common feelings among caregivers.
When the opportunity arises, offer support and assistance to other male caregivers. As someone who has been down the road before, you are a valuable resource.
Schedule personal time regularly.
Donna Raziano is chief medical officer of Mercy Home Health and Mercy LIFE, which promotes health care provided in the home and community setting.