Caregiver Conversations – Introducing “The Reef” – Meeting the Unique Needs of Male Caregivers

Caregiver Conversations – Introducing “The Reef” – Meeting the Unique Needs of Male Caregivers

The Reef for Male Caregivers

Male caregivers are a vital emerging group in our mission to provide dementia specific services and education. We’ve been concerned that not enough male caregivers are taking advantage of what our organization has to offer and have decided to launch a special suite of programs and services, called “The Reef” which is just for them.

Although women are still more likely to be caregivers, the number of men caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s or dementia has soared from 19% to 40% in the past 15 years.

It can be sad and lonely to be a male caregiver. Men are less likely to share their emotions and experiences.  They are also less likely to reach out for help or will delay doing so, sometimes adopting a “go it alone” mentality. Men may compartmentalize caregiving, approaching it as a series of tasks, or as an extension of their job. Men also tend to hold in the emotions that arise during caregiving, or to express them in a more restrained way.

A husband may love his wife dearly but have no idea how to help her put on her panty hose.  He may find himself making spaghetti, separating laundry and coordinating doctor’s appointments for the first time.  It can be a bit overwhelming.

Caregivers almost universally face physical and emotional exhaustion, social isolation, and financial hardship. However, male caregivers often differ from women in how they approach the demands of the role, and in how they respond to its stresses.

Male caregivers can find some solace, healing, and community by reaching out to others who share their experiences.  But understanding how men cope and seek support is essential to ensuring the male caregiver has access to the support and professional programs they need.

Beginning in March, the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center will begin offering 2 very special support groups per month, called Caregiver Mixers, which are just for our male caregivers. The size of each Caregiver Mixer Group will be limited as that it’s my belief that a smaller, more intimate group allows our male caregivers to share in a warm, relaxed and nurturing environment.

Our Coaching for Caregivers program was designed to provide clients with the opportunity to receive all of the benefits that come with attending a support group or caregiver workshop, but is available to our male caregivers on a one-on-one basis in a comfortable environment that they choose at a time that is convenient for them. I find that a lot of our male caregivers actually prefer to start with a few Coaching for Caregivers sessions and then feel more comfortable attending a Caregiver Mixer Support Group.

The Learning Lighthouse which focuses on the educational needs of the community by providing a Resource Library in our Lake Worth offices, will be expanded to included resources specifically for our male caregivers.

Our monthly Care for Fun™ programs will provide our male caregivers with the opportunity to get out and spend some time socializing and having fun with other male caregivers. We might take in a movie, go bowling or play cards.

And finally, each month on our YouTube channel and on our website, we are featuring a new series, called Therapeutic Thursdays that will provide even more in-depth, male-caregiver focused content.

The Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center is the only non-profit organization in Palm Beach County focused strictly on meeting the needs of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers. We are so excited that we can bring these new programs and services to the community and further our mission of helping caregivers to relax, renew and reach-out to help meet their own unique self-care needs.