Over the decades I’ve learned the hard way that being a guy works against you but can be overcome.
Besides the oodles of email, I’ve also coached or counseled new caregivers through our local NMSS chapters.
Overwhelmingly it is the male caregivers who get injured physically and or emotionally and begin to doubt themselves or raise concerns in the person who needs them.
Our American male culture is based on the cowboy mythology.If there is a person in need the hero rides in guns blazing with absolutely no thought of themselves or collateral damage.
I’ve been lucky so far with only one hernia surgery. In the early years for a family outing I would assist Patti into the car, put our daughter into her car seat, then dead lift the scooter into the back. Being a ‘manly-man’ I was not about to disassemble or use a lift to get Patti’s scooter in and out of our vehicle. … Enlightenment followed surgery.
YOU MUST TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF FIRST OR YOU ARE OF NO USE TO ANYONE ELSE. Instead of counting to 10 I repeat that to myself constantly before beginning a caregiver action.
Over the years and Patti’s continuing progression I’ve learned to check the cowboy in me and learned for example to “safely break falls” rather than try to overpower and stop a fall. After all, able bodied couples don’t think twice about tumbling to the ground for fun.
Resist the male urge to overpower problems. Look to creativity and a wider perspective.
Learn to develop and trust intuition. That’s tough for guys but critical for longevity in caregiving.
Homemaking skills can be weak to non-existent in many males. You will loose traditional male bonding time when you begin to discuss laundry detergent instead of sports. Don’t worry you’ll find a way to have Tide and Cheer compete. … A vacuum cleaner IS a power tool! … In the kitchen, remember the world’s great “chefs” are men.
Above all caregiver cowboys do not charge in with those proverbial guns blazing, you’ll unnerve the person you are caring for and most likely hit yourself with a ricochet. Then who is left caring for whom?
… Or don’t ask for directions, believe me I understand. You too can learn the hard way – enlightenment follows surgery.