Caregivers are typically women. We do see men in the role especially if the need is to care for a spouse. What we many times do not think of or keep in mind is traditional men have been the fixer. If it breaks they fix it, if it needs replaced they replace it, if we want a new whatever, they put it together (usually without following the directions) and fix it. Men can be excellent caregivers; the problem occurs after the time of caregiving.
Typically men fix it and when this is not happening they want even more to fix it. When the time comes they cannot fix the problem and they (in their mind and heart) are letting down someone they care so much for, it is not only seen as a failure of abilities but also as the loss of a person who frequently was their greatest supporter. As community leaders, clergy and family, we need to pay extra attention when men are caregivers and the person they care for is going into residential care or has passed on. We are now raising a generation of men who believe it is okay to feel and have emotions, however this is not true of our fathers and many cases our husbands. Brothers are really one their own in many cases as they need extra support of blood family members and everyone is grieving, also.
This Sunday is Father’s Day and for many it is also the first year without a spouse, significant other, child or adult child, this will be a difficult time (because the person to be honored could not fix it). We need to keep this in the forefront of our thoughts and be sensitive to male caregivers.