This National Carers Week and Mental Health Month, I'd like to share some resilience tips for our growing demographic of male carers.
© Danielle Robertson Consulting Pty Ltd t/as DR Care Solutions
While the vast majority of carers of elderly relatives are female, the prevalence of dementia in women sees a growing number of men caring for their partners or sons caring for their mothers.
I see the growing number of male carers day to day in my professional role of organising care for Australian families.
In the past seven years, the number of families seeking support where the primary carer is male has increased by 25%. In 100% of those cases the male carer is caring for a partner with dementia or they are caring for their mother with frailty or dementia. Generally, the son is an only child or one of several male children.
A husband, a son - not a carer
Most of male carers do not call themselves a carer.
Where the carer is the husband, invariably it is the adult children, not the husband, who initiate contact about organising care support.
And there can be reluctance on the part of the husband on my involvement. I may be greeted with: “We’re doing well”; “She occasionally has a bad day but on the whole we’re fine no need to trouble yourself”; and “Everything is under control. We’re OK.”
However, an adult son is more open to obtaining support as most are attempting to work full time and care for young families as well.
Why are husband carers reluctant to ask for help?
I suggest they are raised to be strong, independent and feel responsible for the care of their loved one.
Yet many male carers – be they husbands or sons - do not cope well with the care duties.
Taking over all household duties, providing toileting and showering care, losing the partner’s companionship and their “social connector” to friends and family – all of these factors add layers of stress.
Tips to male carers of loved ones living with dementia
Here are my tips to male carers in building resilience in what may be a long journey of caring for a loved one with dementia.
Address the situation early on. Identify yourself as a carer and seek assistance in the early stages of your role. This fosters a home environment where in-home care assistance is accepted and welcomed. Introducing changes, such as having in-home care, when the dementia has progressed can be difficult. A good place to start is the Australian Government's Carers Gateway.
List what you enjoy in your care role and own those responsibilities. This could be your shared: weekly trip to the public art gallery; regular morning coffee outing at a local café; or daily evening walk with the dog.
List what you do not enjoy and seek in-home carers to take on those responsibilities. This could be: the toileting and showering of your loved one; cooking the main meal of the day; general household tasks; or the repetitive nature of caring for someone living with dementia.
Reassess the responsibilities of the in-home carers every six months. Unfortunately, the dementia will progress and you may need more support. Most in-home care service providers have staff specially trained in dementia care. Speak with those specialists to make sure you are receiving adequate in-home care support.
Place parameters around your caring role and regular life. Keeping up your interests, hobbies and exercise, as best you can, provides release and can help preserve your own mental and physical health.
Seek out other carers to gain advice and strength. Formal and informal carer support groups can be found through the Australian Government’s Carer Gateway. Consider taking part in a Dementia Australia workshop “Blokes in the caring role” currently touring Australia. If you have missed the workshop, watch the online presentation.
If you have taken on the role of carer, find out now what support is available to you.
For more information on the Carer Gateway, take a look at this information pack on the new supports available.
Not sure what the Carer Gateway can do for you?
I was recently on a the panel of a Carer Gateway information seminar hosted by Your Side Australia in partnership with the Benevolent Society, discussing the Carer Gateway and bringing crucial information to carers.
I encourage you to download the:
Carer Gateway Information Pack
by Your Side Australia, delivering Carer Gateway supports and services in Sydney in partnership with the Benevolent Society.
Carer Gateway Information Pack
Where Carers Can Find Support.
Learn what supports are available to you, and how you can access them, in this handy booklet.
It's free and easy to download; we invite you to get your copy.
Submit the form below and we'll send it directly to your email address.
If you are seeking care for a loved one living with dementia, please feel free to call me, Danielle Robertson, for an initial discussion on how to set up the right care, support and assistance at the right time and in the right place.
 About National Carers Week
 About National Health Month
 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: Carers of People with Dementia
 Dementia Australia: Men in the Caring Role Presented by Dementia Australia Expert Vincent Poisson
 DR Care Solutions: Informal Carers - Act Early in Finding the Supports You Need
 My Aged Care: Types of Care
 Australian Government Carer Gateway
 Dementia Australia: Events - Blokes in the Caring Role
 Your Side Australia