Male Caregivers: An Overlooked Population

What do you think of when hear the word “caregiver”?

You probably imagine a woman, often in middle age or later, working herself to the bone caring for an elderly spouse, parent, or other loved one. You probably don’t think of men.

But male caregivers are on the rise. Specifically for patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia, men account for almost 40 percent of caregivers. This is double the amount of male caregivers 15 years ago.

There are many factors that go into this huge increase, ranging from economic to societal. Another important factor is that more aging women have Alzheimer’s than men, putting their husbands in the caregiving seat.

Regardless of what’s causing it, the fact is, men make up a large percentage of caregivers. Most resources for caregivers, though, are geared to women. As an example, caregiver support groups are dominated by women, with very few men represented.

Today we’ll pay some attention to this neglected group, by bringing you some tips specifically for male caregivers.

1. Open up about your feelings.

While each individual man or woman deals with their emotions in their unique ways, men as a group tend to be more closed.

Caregiving, though, is a very tough and emotionally draining job. Caregivers, especially when they’re caring for a parent or spouse, experience a huge range of emotions on a daily basis. It’s important to talk them out and release them, so you don’t constantly carry the toxic load of guilt, resentment, fear, stress, and other emotions.

To help you process your feelings in healthy way, find at least one close friend or family member who can support you on this journey. Studies have shown that while men are more likely to talk to friends and coworkers about the practical aspects of caregiving, they’re slower to admit to emotional stress or depression as a result of it.

Don’t get caught up in trying to “be strong” and “take it like a man.” All humans need to express and release strong emotions and stress.

2. Give and get support.

Consider joining a support group, or starting one specifically for male caregivers. While most of the issues that come up in caregiving are universal for men and women, there are differences in the way they handle things. For example, women tend to be more emotional, while men are more practical-minded.

Men may feel safer to share their outlook among other men. Some men even find it easier to participate in online caregiver forums than attend in-person meetings. Try out both mediums, and see what works for you.

3. Don’t overlook self-care.

This is important for all caregivers, but an especially important reminder for men. Statistically, men don’t see their primary care physicians as often as women do, and they also don’t take their aches and pains as seriously.

Men: take care of yourselves. You owe it to the loved one you’re caring for, and you owe it to yourself.

Particularly if you yourself are elderly, it’s important to eat well, get enough sleep, and see your doctor when you feel ill.

4. Keep in mind the gender bias.

Unfortunately, a deeply held gender bias still exists in caregiving. Even if you are your parent’s primary caregiver, their doctors may still assume your sister is the one in charge. Make sure all medical providers involved in your loved one’s care know you are the one most knowledgeable about the patient’s condition, and they need to speak to you.

For the male caregivers reading this, have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments.

Terminal Illness: How to Talk About It

He’s the 90-year-old patriarch of a large family spread across the world. He’s sharp and witty, blood-transfusion dependent, and dying.

She’s been battling cancer for 3 years, her loved ones supporting her all the while. Her doctor just told here there’s nothing more he can do.

As a family they never really talked about the important things, and now death is staring them in the eye. What should they do?

It can be scary and sad when your loved one is given a terminal diagnosis. You may be in denial at first, but it’s important to face reality and talk about the diagnosis. In some cases the patient only has weeks to live, and you don’t want to live with regrets that you didn’t make the most of the time left. While it’s not healthy to ignore or push down your emotions, you may need to shelve them for a short time while you deal with the pressing issues. Here are some important things to talk about after the diagnosis:

1. Prognosis

Whether or not the patient is able to communicate, it’s important for everyone involved to understand the diagnosis. If the patient is still cognizant, they should be included in the discussion. Help them understand what is happening with their illness, and what the next few weeks or months will look like. Encourage them—and their involved loved ones—to ask questions and talk about their concerns.

Knowing how much time the patient has left is also helpful for the family. Loved ones who live far away can make travel plans and come to spend time with Dad while he’s still cognizant. The family can get together to make some memories before Grandma passes.

2. Emotions

Having a terminal illness in the family can make you feel powerless, out of control, or angry. Recognize these feelings in yourself and the other family members. Talking about the illness, the patient, and the future can help your family grow closer and overcome this challenge together. You can start the grieving process when you get the diagnosis, and doing it as a family can provide incredible support.

Some families aren’t used to talking about emotions openly. It can be difficult and scary to open up to others, even your loved ones, when you’re used to putting up a strong front. In such cases it’s even more important to talk about your feelings, so you don’t bury them and leave them to fester.

Another important aspect of emotions is unresolved stories. Don’t hesitate to tell your terminally ill loved one that you forgive them, and ask them for forgiveness in return. Tell them you love them, and thank them for the beautiful memories you’ve shared.

3. Finances

If the patient has any assets, such as a home, car, stock portfolio, or bank accounts, he needs to have a will. If he doesn’t have one yet, now is the time to write one. For more information, check out this old, but still relevant, article about estate planning and wills.

Talk to the patient about their will and where it’s

4. The Patient’s Wishes

Ask the patient what he wants from his loved ones. Does he want company or space? Is he strong enough to handle larger groups of visitors? Perhaps he wants to talk about his life story, and have his family record it.

You also need to talk about the patient’s end-of-life wishes. Does she want to pursue all available therapies, or does she want to continue treatment and go on hospice? Does she have an advanced directive for a time when she may no longer be able to communicate? It’s important to have these conversations early on, before the illness progresses past the point of communication.

Confronting terminal illness is one of the hardest things your family will ever face. Talking about your loved one’s death can be a scary process. But the consequence of not having these conversations when you have the opportunity is even worse. After you get the diagnosis, keep these four things in mind as you approach the following days and weeks. And of course, if you need any help, you can reach out to our excellent social workers at Regency Nursing for support and assistance.

Beloved Regency Resident Turns 104 Today

Happy Birthday, Emma Tyukody!


She was born when Woodrow Wilson was president and the world was three weeks away from the assassination that sparked World War I. She was a toddler when America joined the war in Europe, and was already a teenager when the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began. Emma Tyukody saw virtually every big event and technological advancement of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.  Today we wish her a very happy birthday.

Emma joined the Regency family over 8 years ago, when she moved into Regency Jewish Heritage. We very quickly grew to love Emma’s sharp wit and joyful attitude. Now at 104 years old, you can still see the wisdom and love of life stamped on Emma’s face.

Since her 100th year, Emma has been honored at Regency’s centenarian celebrations. In 2014, she said the secret to her longevity is “living right” and “doing the right thing.” In another interview, she said she was born happy—and apparently, she’s been living happy ever since. During the same interview, Emma said she was a good speller, and she still has her first spelling book! In fact, Emma was the Spelling Bee Champion at Regency Jewish Heritage back in 2010.

A few years ago, Emma was chosen to represent New Jersey centenarians in photographer Danny Goldfield’s portrait series To Live 10,000 Years. Danny captured Emma’s truly beautiful radiance in his stunning photos.

Regency Nursing: A Haven for Centenarians

At Regency Nursing we’re proud and honored of our residents who’ve lived ten decades or more.  Centenarians (and younger seniors, of course!) choose Regency Nursing because of our incomparable medical care and patient-centered philosophy. We provide our residents with outstanding nursing care, quality of life, and recovery services.

Regular readers of our blog will remember that Regency set a world record for the then largest gathering of centenarians. The 2013 event made it into The 2015 Guinness Book of World Records, as a testament to Regency Nursing’s commitment to excellent care.


Prevent Caregiver Burnout

If you spend any amount of time caring for your elderly parents, you are at risk of burning out. What does burnout mean? How does it look and where does it come from?

The dictionary defines burnout as “physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.” And both overwork and stress are common among caregivers to the elderly. Whether your parents live with you, live alone, or in a long-term care facility, the burden of their care sits heavily on you.

Causes of Caregiver Burnout

You’re in danger of burning out any time you start pushing your limits without stopping to care for yourself. This can include:

  • Working too hard and not accepting help
  • Not sleeping well
  • Not eating well
  • Stress from financial problems
  • Confusion from all the medical decisions
  • Guilt about those medical decisions

Being the primary caregiver of an elderly or disabled person is physically taxing. Some seniors need extensive help with dressing, toileting, and bathing. If you’re the one doing all that, you can get worn down very quickly. In addition, it’s difficult to juggle work responsibilities with caregiving. Your career may suffer, or you may find yourself skipping the things you used to enjoy because you simply have no time.

Besides the physical aspect of caring for your parents, you also have the crushing emotional burden of assuming a “parenting” role for your own parent. Unresolved resentments between elderly parents and their adult children, or between siblings, tend to come up during medical episodes and while making medical decisions. This all contributes to the load of mental and emotional stress caregivers carry.

All these factors and more play into caregiver burnout, and it’s important to recognize when you’re overdoing it.

How Burning Out Looks

After a time of neglecting yourself and focusing solely on your parent or loved one, you might start feeling depressed or anxious. You may lose weight, have changes in appetite and sleeping patterns, and feel irritable a lot. You could even find yourself dealing with a lingering cold that just won’t go away.

You might not even notice these red flags right away. Many times caregivers are so overwhelmed, they can’t stop to think about how they’re feeling. Others may pick up on the signs of burnout, and can let you know when you need to take a break.

How to Prevent Burnout

  • While it won’t completely eliminate your caregiving burden, consider placing your parent in a long-term care facility. Feelings of guilt and inadequacy may prevent you from taking that step, but it’s something to consider when you don’t have a lot of help and you’re getting run down from all your responsibilities. Many times, moving your loved one to a skilled nursing facility is the best option for everyone. In facilities like Regency Nursing‘s, residents get superior care and have a warm social atmosphere if they desire. You can still be as involved as you want to be in your loved one’s care, and often your relationship improves when you’re no longer the full-time caregiver.
  • Take care of yourself. Take breaks from caregiving to indulge in activities you enjoy. Accept help when others offer it, and learn how to delegate. Make sure to schedule—and attend—regular doctor appointments for yourself.
  • Practice stress relief. Even if you make no other change, just making a habit of reducing stress will work wonders on your mood, appetite, and long-term health. For some stress-reducing techniques, see our previous blog post, Take a Break From Stress.
  • Embrace your medical decisions—and their consequences. One of the hardest parts of being a caregiver is the responsibility of making medical decisions. Ideally, you have an advance directive signed by your parent, but what happens if you don’t, and you’re long past the point where Mom and Dad can communicate their wishes? You do your best to follow the doctor’s and facility’s recommendations, and then choose the option that seems best. Later, you may feel like you made a bad decision, and you may blame yourself for the results. Remember that you did the right thing at that time, and there’s no way to know how the other options would have turned out. Keeping that mindset will help you have more peace of mind during this challenging time.

Free Senior Care Resources!

The Regency Alliance on Senior Care has put together a fabulous selection of educational pamphlets on all aspects of senior care, which are empowering as they are enlightening.

Click on any image to open a beautiful interface with an option for printing the pamphlet of your choice!

Con Artist Pamphlet
Diabetes and Older Adults
Diabetes and Older Adults
Facts about Alzheimers
Facts about Alzheimers
Fitness for Seniors
Fitness for Seniors
Your Entitlements
Your Entitlements
Your Health Benefits
Your Health Benefits
Living Wills
Living Wills
Maintaining Memory
Maintaining Memory
Parenting your Parent Part 1
Parenting your Parent Part 1
Parenting your Parent Part 2
Parenting your Parent Part 2
Parenting your Parent Part 3
Parenting your Parent Part 3
Parenting your Parent Part 4
Parenting your Parent Part 4
Seeing The World Through Older Eyes
Seeing The World Through Older Eyes
Selecting Long Term Senior Care
Selecting Long Term Senior Care
Senior Blues
Senior Blues
Visiting Someone in a Nursing Facility
Visiting Someone in a Nursing Facility
Winter Safety
Winter Safety for Seniors

Selecting Long Term Senior Care

Selecting Long -Term Senior Care
A Guide to Making Informed Choices

Mom hardly cooks anymore, and often skips her medication. She’s definitely not taking care of herself or the house as she used to. You’re afraid that she might forget to turn off the gas, or stop cooking for herself altogether. The next fall could land her in the hospital. Is it time to sit down as a family and decide what is best to safeguard the years you have left with her?IMG_1233

Dad has piles of newspapers in the living room and dirty dishes all over the kitchen. He’s often forgetful and confused when you ask him about important matters concerning his finances and upkeep of the house. Worse, you know he’s not taking his blood pressure medicine on a regular basis. What if he has a stroke, even a minor one, and no one finds him for hours afterward?

The scenes described above are played out in thousands of homes each and every day. If you can relate to one of them, it is comforting to know that there have never been more or better options when it comes to long-term senior care. This article is designed to educate family members about those choices and help them select the one that offers the most appropriate services, in the most comfortable setting, and that will allow their loved ones to live the fullest possible lives.

How Do You Know When the Time is Right?
The reality is that at some point, even the healthiest and most robust senior will likely require some level of assistance outside the home. If your loved one is experiencing ongoing health difficulties or needs assistance with activities of daily living, take a few moments to answer the questions below. If you can answer yes to any of them, the time has probably come to make a decision concerning long-term care.

• Has your loved one’s advancing age or a chronic health condition resulted in seriously
diminished strength and inability to function independently?

• Has it become increasingly difficult for family members and friends to provide adequate care
without regular professional support?

• Have escalating clinical needs or changes in behavior rendered the current setting for care
inadequate or unsafe?

When Everyone Suffers
All too often, a sense of guilt keeps people from seeking the help they need to care for aging parents or a family member who can no longer function independently. Despite ever-increasing physical and emotional demands, they nevertheless attempt to care for their loved ones themselves and frequently jeopardize their own physical and mental health in the process. At-home caregivers frequently push themselves to the limit and put a greater burden on themselves and their families than anyone can be expected to handle. In these situations it is important to make a prompt but well-considered decision that is in the best interest of everyone involved.

Responding to Changing Times and Changing Needs
Over the years, long-term care has developed and evolved, adjusting to meet changing times and responding to many different needs – the health of the older adult, his or her mental capabilities, the desire for social interaction, and the family’s ability to participate in the care.

Long-Term Care Options
In choosing long-term care you will be addressing the health, personal care, lifestyle and social needs
of your loved one. There are several options to consider. Some of these are transitional, some
are permanent, and most offer social and recreational services along with professional healthcare support. The following brief descriptions will give you a basic understanding of the most readily available alternatives.

Assisted Living Residences – Assisted living provides relatively independent seniors with health care support and personal assistance in a home-like environment. Typical services may include:
• Private or semi-private rooms

• Three meals a day served in a common dining area

• Housekeeping

• Transportation

• Assistance with activities of daily living such as eating, bathing, dressing, toileting and mobility

• 24-hour security

• Laundry services

• Social and recreational activities

Limited health care services are provided by the facility. When required, clinical care is generally provided by outside professionals and home healthcare agencies at an additional cost.

Sub-Acute Care and Rehabilitation – Sub-acute care is the answer for those recovering from
a serious injury or illness who no longer need the acute care provided in a hospital but still require some help with their recovery. Skilled nursing homes frequently provide sub-acute care both to residents and short-term non-residential patients. In many communities sub-acute care is also provided by freestanding facilities. Sub-acute patients receive skilled nursing care, rehabilitation therapies, wound
care and other specialized services until they are able to return home or move to an alternate level of care.

Skilled Nursing Facilities – For most people, long-term care is synonymous with “nursing
home care.” When patients are no longer able to care for themselves, a skilled nursing facility provides round-the-clock care and assistance with activities of daily living. Most facilities today offer far more than just quality nursing care. Additional services may include sub-acute rehabilitation, dementia care, respiratory therapy and psychiatric support. They also offer a full range of social and recreational activities to enrich and enhance the lives of the residents.

Specialty Care – Programs designed specifically for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are available through certain residential skilled nursing facilities. Dedicated units, wings or free-standing facilities offer a safe and secure setting for care. A specially trained staff provide health care support and supervision. Structured activities are designed to stimulate and encourage residents to function at their highest possible level.

Paying for Long-Term Care
There are four basic ways to pay for long-term care:

1. Medicare. Medicare is a federal health insurance program divided into two parts. Part A pays for inpatient hospital services, care in a sub-acute rehabilitation facility, skilled nursing services in a nursing home for a limited period of time, home health services*, and hospice care. Medicare Part B pays for physician services, outpatient hospital care, medical equipment and other health services. Eligibility for Medicare is not based on financial need and is open to nearly all seniors. (*There are various levels of Home Health Care, some are covered by Medicare and some by Medicaid.)

2. Medicaid. Medicaid is a combined state and federal program that pays most nursing home costs for people with limited incomes. The program has limitations as to the amount of assets the patient may own and the income he or she may receive each month and still be eligible.

3. Private Pay. Insurance experts estimate that about one-third of all long-term care is paid for by individuals from their own funds. These “private pay” sources include savings, investments, pension plans, employee stock ownership plans, single premium annuities and cash value of life insurance polices.

4. Long-Term Care Insurance. Given the increasingly high cost of health care, long-term care insurance is becoming more popular as a way to help defray future costs and alleviate anxiety. Policies must be purchased prior to needing long-term care, as eligibility is based on current health. If you are already a candidate for long-term care, you may not qualify for coverage. Premiums are based on age, health and the type of plan purchased. Most financial planners recommend that long-term care insurance be purchased when people are in their late 50s to early 60s, when premiums are more affordable.