En español | When it comes to family caregivers, people tend to think of women. But the face of American caregiving is quickly changing. Whereas just 34 percent of caregivers were men eight years ago, today some 40 percent of the 40 million Americans looking after a loved one are male.
And that’s why AARP joined forces with the Ad Council to create a public service announcement (PSA) campaign that shines a spotlight on this often overlooked army of husbands, brothers, sons and friends serving as caregivers.
The ad stars one of these caregivers — someone you may recognize: actor Danny Trejo, who has starred in Machete and Breaking Bad. In it, Trejo performs some tough-guy feats he’s known for in films. Alongside him, the equally tough jobs a typical caregiver performs on a daily basis are shown.
As Trejo shaves his face with a machete, a caregiver shaves his father’s face. As Trejo lifts a car, a caregiver lifts his father from his chair. Trejo calls the caregiver “the toughest guy on the planet."
“I’ve helped care for a friend of mine who had cancer, so I know how hard it can be,” Trejo said. “Being a caregiver takes total dedication, absolute love and unbelievable toughness. I’m proud to do what I can to support them.”
AARP’s new data profile on male caregivers shares insights on the level and type of care men provide, the challenges they face and more. Some of the key findings include:
- More than half of male caregivers (63 percent) are the primary caregiver for their loved one.
- Many men say they feel unprepared for these tasks and express discomfort providing intimate personal care (bathing, dressing, toileting, etc.).
- Men are less likely than women to reach out for help and feel uncomfortable discussing the emotional challenges of caregiving.
- More than one-third (37 percent) of male caregivers don’t tell their employers that they are juggling caregiving responsibilities at home.
Caregivers can find helpful tools, such as the Prepare to Care guides, and more at aarp.org/caregiving.
“Many male family caregivers see themselves simply as sons, spouses, and friends caring for someone they love,” said AARP Public Policy Institute Vice President Jean Accius. “Through this campaign, we want to recognize and provide the tools and support these male family caregivers need in this vital role.”