More men are stepping into the caregiver role

By Holley Nees - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - As the baby boomer generation ages, an increasing number of Americans are faced with the task of caring for their loved ones. Traditionally women have taken on the caregiver role, but more men are now getting involved.

"Sixty, 65, 70, 75, 80 years old that's the fastest growing population which means by default when you talk about at the age of 80, 50 percent of those people will have Alzheimer's," said Dr. Robert Caroll.  "We've got a whole lot more going to need more caregivers."

So, now men are stepping up to the plate.

"We have a lot of sons that are caring for their mothers and we also have some nephews caring for aunts," said organizer Donna Sprouse.  "So, you know that was something to see the big difference. You know, there are just as many men as women."

There are a number of reasons for the big change.

"It's okay for men to stay home and take care of their mothers and you know the wives are working, so they're having to become part and step up and you know help their wives with this task," Sprouse said.

"More and more women in the workplace and professional women. There are perhaps some families where the man is more available because of his job or his circumstance than the woman," said Caregiver Doug McWhirter.

Mcwhirter is among the growing number of male caregivers.

"You've often lost the person that you had that meant so much to you. You've already lost them, but then you continue to have them to see, hear, and take care for them for years," McWhirter said.

One doctor said it happens by default because more women are getting debilitating diseases like Alzheimer's.

"There are more and more men that are now falling into that role of caregiver as well because their wives are getting it, their mothers are getting it," said Dr. Caroll.

So, the idea of women automatically taking on the primary caregiving role is becoming a thing of the past.

"We can be a caregiver if we need to be. We need to be ready to make that change when the time comes," McWhirter said.

And with an increasing number of elderly Americans more men and women will have to make the change.

They hope to make Wednesday's conference an annual event and expand it to include more people from the general public.

For more information on the topic, contact the Area Agency on Aging of Deep East Texas, at (409) 384-7614 or by Dialing 211 - the Social Services Referral Hotline.

©2009 KTRE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.