When we think of a familiy caregiver, most of us picture women. While that’s a more familiar and societally accepted image, the reality is that 40% of all caregivers – about 16 million people – are men. (Source) According to the National Study of Caregiving (NSOC), male caregivers “have weak support networks and are less likely to seek out programs which increase their caregiving capabilities and help them cope with this burden.” This may feed into a largely underdiagnosed mental health crisis in male caregivers. It’s time to bring awareness to, and raise solutions for, this problem.
In a podcast episode shared by the Inland Caregiver Resource Center, Derek Chacon discussed the mental health challenges male caregivers face in a bit more detail. This discussion is informative and hopes to raise awareness for those facing these common struggles.
Men’s Health Awareness || Additional Statistics and Context
Of all caregivers in the United States, 16 million, or 40% are men. Of these men:
- 63% identified as primary caregivers.
- 50% are caregivers by choice, the other half felt obligated to take on the role.
- The average time of care is nearly four years. For spouses, it is closer to 5 years.
- 49% were assisting an aging parent/in-law.
- 13% were assisting a spouse.
With regard to mental health, men expressed the burdens of caregiving as follows:
- 62% report experiencing the caregiving experience to be moderate to very stressful.
- 46% report experiencing moderate to severe physical strain as caregivers.
- Men are likely to under-report the burden they experience and are less likely to admit negative feelings. (Source)
- 84% of caregivers stated that they could use more information or help on caregiving topics. (Source)
- 14% reported that they had received no preparation and training for the tasks required of them, despite the tasks they manage being frequently technical in nature (such as injections, managing catheters, or tube feeding). (Source)
- Despite the prior statistic, 84% of these caregivers report wishing they had qualified professionals teaching them how to manage these tasks. (Source)
As these statistics highlight, there is a lot of work that needs to be done regarding mental health and male caregivers. These are heavily burdened caregivers who often feel isolated or unsupported, are unlikely to ask for or find help, and feel underprepared for their role. Compounding the issue is the fact that we target most caregiver resources and studies toward women.
Learn more about this issue in an enlightening chat with Derek Chacon. It is informative, interesting, and starts an important discussion on men’s mental health, offering solidarity and proposed solutions:
Self Care for Male Caregiver Mental Health
One of the best ways to avoid the adverse health effects associated with the stress of caregiving is to practice self care. Being a caregiver is a demanding job, and it can be easy to get so caught up in taking care of others that you forget to take care of yourself. As we’ve learned, male caregivers are more likely to bottle up the stress than female caregivers. However, it’s important to remember that self-care is essential for both your physical and mental wellbeing. As a male caregiver, there are a few things you can do to practice self-care:
- Make sure to schedule some time for yourself each day, even if it’s just a few minutes. Use this time to do something you enjoy, such as reading, listening to music, or spending time outdoors.
- It’s also important to stay physically active and eat a healthy diet. Exercise not only helps to improve your physical health, but it can also help to reduce stress and improve your mood.
- Finally, don’t hesitate to reach out for support from family and friends. Talking about your experiences can help you feel less isolated and more supported. Remember, practicing self-care is an important part of being a caregiver.
How to Find Resources for Caregivers
If you’re providing care to a loved one, we hope you found some solidarity in the fact that you are not alone. To get more information about the resources we have available to you as a California caregiver, contact us at the California Caregiver Resource Center nearest to you or join CareNav for free today.
Further Reading: Getting Paid to Provide Care for a Loved One
If you are a caregiver, we recommend you check out our article about getting paid to be a caregiver in California next. Becoming a caregiver is both physically and mentally difficult, and expensive. The state of California offers several paths for least partial compensation or subsidized assistance, so click here to learn more about how to get paid to be a caregiver.Share this post: