The Caregivers Challenge
This post is a personal one. It’s a public thank you to all the guys out there who are stepping up to the challenge; the challenge of caregiving.
Guys… I’m speaking to you… you know who you are.
Caregivers come in many shapes and sizes. Some are hands on caregivers and some are supporting a loved one who is the caregiver and some fall somewhere in-between. We don’t talk enough about caregiving for several reasons. It’s difficult. It’s emotional. It takes a toll on families. It’s also not just a woman’s role.
There are plenty of men doing their fair share. Men are often characterized as being hard, unfeeling and emotionally unavailable. We girls might be somewhat responsible for this. Are we guilty of pushing them away? Do we just assume they can’t or they won’t help? Maybe…
A chronically ill loved one impacts the entire family. There are many situations where men are assuming the role of caregiver for a sick child, spouse or an aging parent. Even if you aren’t a hand’s on caregiver some of you have your hands full keeping the home fires burning while your spouse takes on the role of caregiver.
Life comes at us fast in the best of times. Add on the stress of a loved one who is ill for an extended period of time and life can quickly become a firestorm. Day-to-day hands-on caregiving can sometimes be shared or turned over to a care community or in-home care provider. But we can’t delegate the emotional aspects of caregiving. It’s a daily struggle and it never goes away. Every phone call can mean a crisis. It’s a constant source of worry and can keep you on edge. Families are often torn between maintaining a normal life and the never-ending demands of caregiving.
If you have read any of my previous posts you may know that my Mom has Dementia. She’s been pretty stable in recent months. I am fortunate. She is even-tempered, kind and grateful, which isn’t always the case with this disease.
In my journey in dealing with Mom and learning about her disease and others, I’ve read a lot about caregiving. I’ve seen many families impacted. There is a lot to know and lot of great information available. There are many great resources and a great many books on the subject. Unfortunately, there is no “how-to” manual. Every situation is different. There are books specifically written for the male caregiver. They can and do step up. Sometimes all they need is a little direction. One thing I’ve read over and over again is that we women just have to ask for help, and be specific. No one is capable of being a mind reader and no, they don’t just get it.
I’ve seen husbands spend every day at their wife’s bedside. Busy sons visit Mom or Dad on their way home from work at the end of a long day. I’ve seen Keith, one of the nursing assistants, who often works the 2nd shift, take great care of Mom. He is always kind and caring. I’ve seen her doctors do their manly best to provide compassionate care and try to put themselves in her shoes. And I’ve seen my husband do everything he can to make my life a little easier when the demands are overwhelming.
It’s the little things in life that can have such a huge impact; filling up my car with gas so I won’t have to worry about it, going with me to visit Mom, so I will have company and moral support, volunteering to go to the ER late at night when she’s had a fall and I was out-of-town on business, bringing coffee to me every morning, being there to give me a hug when I come home after hearing mom say “I’m scared I won’t be able to find my room.” It’s all of this and more. My husband, like many other men are stepping up.
We thank you. It’s easier with your help. Keep doing what you’re doing!