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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Does a Person's Gender Make Them A Better Caregiver? Male or Female?

Hello Everyone,

Recently while reading on a cargiving forum I frequent, the question was raised " How is the situation different when the caregiver is the husband". It was suggested that men are usually not raised from childhood to nurture and that they may need help to be a successful caregiver. This got me thinking about how times have changed. The one comment made by another forum member was to the effect that this was an old concept, and I must say after much thought I have to agree. 

In generations past the line between the sexes was very well defined. Women where raised to be wives and mothers, to stay home with the children and as the posters said be the primary nurturer. The men were raised to be the strong ones, the bread winners and to keep their emotions in check. When a loved one became ill such as a parent or grandparent it was usually the woman who stepped in to care for them. If a wife became ill many times a sister or other female relative would care for her or the husband would place her in a nursing home. That was then this is now. 

 Beginning with my generation, I am middle aged, things began to change. The line began to become hazy and with the current generation the line has become all but unidentifiable. We have grown as a population to understand that both women and men can and should be nurturers.  Take for example the fact that more and more men are the ones taking family leave time to stay at home with newborn children while the wife continues to work. When you look at the population of health care workers you will fine that more men than ever before are becoming nurses, certified nursing assistants, hospice care workers, and aids. Men are in this day and age being allowed without judgement to take on roles that help them express the emotions they have always had, but been unable or afraid to show. 

This brings be to the real question " What Makes A Successful Caregiver"? Being able above all to have empathy for your patient is to me the most important tool to success. Notice I said empathy not sympathy.  Websters defines empathy in part this way " the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another " being able to put yourself in another's shoes so to speak. 

There was an experiment that literally put two people in the shoes of a woman suffering from dementia. The experiment was done to help the son who was caring for his mother try and understand to some extent what she was going through. The journalist who was taping the piece took part in the experiment also and the out come was amazing. I have provided you a link here to the video so you can watch for yourself. It will amaze you. One thing the experiment did for the son was made him realize he could not care for his mother. He did not have the right personality to handle what she was going through. This is an important thing to take into consideration when deciding what is best for your loved one. Not everyone is suited to be a caregiver male or female. Trying to do the job when it overwhelms you and causes you to resent your loved is not healthy for either of you. At that point the wise thing to do is take a step back and care from a distance while you let someone else do the day to day.

There is no shame in coming to this realization. In fact I applaud those who have the courage to voice how they feel. When trying to care for my own mother at home ( my sister's ) home, my sister and I came to the realization that she could no longer do it. It was just becoming to hard and it was time for a change. Having someone who needs 24/7 care in your home, even if you have help during the day can be overwhelming.  We decided to look into Adult Family Care Homes and found a wonderful one 10 minutes away from both her and I. My mother loves it there and she is happy that the heavy lifting is on longer on the shoulders of my sister and I. We visit several times a week, care for her financial matters and enjoy our time with her. 

Both men and women who have loved ones who need care can and do in hundreds of cases provide well for them. To some the challenge is no challenge at all. They have the type of personality that allows them to be successful and I applaud them. We should however never berate those that feel the need to step back.  Just as not everyone is cut out to be a doctor and every doctor is not cut out to be a surgeon, so to not every person is cut out to be a caregiver. By carefully anglicizing oneself from time to time you can be sure you have made the right decision for all involved. 

Job opening " Caregiver Needed" all may apply!

I would love to know what you think about the matter. Comments are always welcome.

Until Next Time

Take Care
Ruth Anne

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