Male Care Givers Are Different – but only on the surface

After a year or so of maneuvering in the overwhelmingly female environment of online support groups and seeing myself pointed out as a relatively rare man, I started to think about that phenomenon of non-verbal males a lot.

All of the male caregivers I have met in real life seemed totally devoted to their wives and willing to do whatever it takes to make them happy and keep them comfortable.

Perhaps this disconnect is based on each gender’s willingness to speak out about painful subjects. I was thinking about how to say this in some meaningful way yesterday. I was listening to Frederica von Stade, one of my favorite singers, on youtube and, in rotation, she sang a duet with a lyric tenor Jerry Hadley. I am always interested in the background of celebrities I come across and don’t know so I searched online for Jerry Hadley and his story amazed me.

He was a successful lyric tenor until his divorce in 2002 seemingly crushed his spirit. He withdrew from music and from most public life:

“A wounded bird cannot sing. It was tough. It was emotionally distressing and it goes straight to the throat. So I took some time off and sat in the quiet for a while. I never really understood how inseparable was the journey of the spirit and the journey of singing and making music. For the first time in my life I couldn’t see a way forward. But I came out on the other side of it with a deeper appreciation of what a great gift and great opportunities God has given me.”

“A few months before his death, he had begun a major comeback, with the public and critics noting a renewed freshness, control and vibrancy to his voice.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerry_Hadley) Perhaps this was one of the warning signs that suicide was imminent.

“Just before a suicide attempt, when the individual has made the decision to kill himself, he may appear much calmer, happier and more relaxed. That’s because he is no longer in turmoil. Suicide seems like the ‘perfect solution.'”
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/compassion-matters/200906/suicide-the-warning-signs

So when you think that men are in general without the deep feelings that female caregivers so easily express, think about Jerry Hadley who was so crushed by the loss of his loved one that he gave up everything.

4 thoughts on “Male Care Givers Are Different – but only on the surface”

  1. Our dad is taking care of our mom on his own by choice. We have tried to convince him to let us arrange for some sort of help even just a couple days a week a few hours at a time and he refuses. He has shared that he cannot see himself doing anything else other than taking care of her. Dad is a natural-born caretaker and someone who likes to solve problems. We worry for him because this is one problem he cannot solve. Eventually mom’s FTD PPA will completely consume her. I am concerned what her decline is doing to his spirit and how he will cope when the dementia takes over. To a certain extent he is still living in a bit of denial. How do I get him to accept the inevitable?

    1. Maria, I was in a like situation in that my wife is an inordinately private and modest person and didn’t want anyone to take care of her other than me. The first two caregivers I tried actually focussed on Jackie, trying to watch her all the time. This drove Jackie crazy and, after the few days with both of them, she actually stood in the doorway to keep them from coming into the house.

      I was getting just burnt out from doing all the household stuff that I was unfamiliar with and bad at in addition to trying to take care of my wife – and to have some little time for myself. The eventual solution was to find someone to help me with the housekeeping. Jackie knows from unfortunate experience that I’m not much of a cook and I’m worse at housekeeping and so she understood this person being in the house helping me.

      After the first couple of semi-tough days, my wife and this woman bonded and she is now a part of Jackie’s life – and mine. This woman, Mona (not her real name, I don’t want to abuse her privacy by using her name) does all the laundry, makes us salads every day, gives me the needed help to cook when I fail and cooks make-ahead meals. Every room she goes into, looks neater when she comes out. Jackie (and I) look forward to her being here. watches her leave and yesterday even hid her keys so she wouldn’t go.

      So my subterfuge has worked.
      Perhaps you could suggest a part-time housekeeper to your dad so he can have more time with your mother.
      If you can find an intelligent person who has some care experience and who might bond a bit with your mother, that will be extremely valuable in supporting your father.
      Just having another person to share and take over the non-stop burden is quite a relief.

      Write whenever you care to.
      It might be a relief to correspond with someone who is just a bit further down this path than you.

      Good luck, whatever you do. W
      hen you find a way to help your dad, let me know.
      (and thanks for taking the time to comment)

  2. My father cared for my mother with Alzheimer’s for about ten years before he finally had to place her in a care facility. He still visited her every day at dinner time to be sure she would eat at least one meal fully. (It took her about two hours to finish a meal and the caregivers at the facility just didn’t have that much time.)

    1. Guys, in general, are OK.
      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.
      If you get an email from the site telling you about this reply, please send me an email at llorton@gmail.com
      I’ve installed a plugin to respond to comments with my reply and I can’t tell if its working.

      Lew

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