A Hidden Army of Male Family Caregivers Rises to the Occasion

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Caregiving
Father and son sharing a laugh together.

In the early 2000s, when Bobby Edwards was living just outside Boston, he knew that, as the middle child between his older brother and younger sister, that one day he’d have to pitch in to help care for his aging parents in Washington, DC.

At times, caregiving for an elderly parent or loved one might start out with a little help with bills or grocery shopping. But for others, like Edwards, 56, it can be overwhelming.

In 1995, he lost his sister, Yvette, 30, who contracted AIDS from a boyfriend. Tragedy came again in 2006 when his older brother, Kenny, 50, died of a heart attack in their parents’ home. That’s when Edwards moved from Boston back home to Washington.

“When you grow up the middle of three children, you just don’t anticipate the experiences I’ve had to go through the last five years or so, caregiving for the two of them” by himself, Edwards said. With siblings, he said, “You  just assume, ‘We’ll share this. We’ll do this together.’ That wasn’t the case.”

Edwards isn’t alone. A recent report by AARP, “Breaking Stereotypes: Spotlight on Male Family Caregivers,” found that 40 percent of caregivers for aging adults are men. This represents some 16 million male caregivers nationwide.

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