Eugene (Gene) Conrad, facilitator for a men’s caregiver support group, asked The Caregiver’s Voice if we knew of any other all-male caregiver support groups for Alzheimer’s disease.
After contacting membership organizations who would be in the position to know about or run support groups, I replied to Gene that I was not able to come up with any more than the two all-male support groups Gene and I were already aware of.
It’s surprising, considering there are twice as many male caregivers than reported 15 years ago. Today, male caregivers comprise 40% of all caregivers.
Men still have a hard time asking for help.
Over the years, I’ve served as a guest facilitator at support groups across the U.S.; yet, only once did I facilitate a support group for all males.
Look around, the next time you’re in a support group. How many men are attending versus women?
I usually find about 10%–only 1 in 10 support group attendees are men.
Gene also wrote that he was “looking for articles and books that focus on male caregivers of AD patients to help [him] as a caregiver and facilitator via the Alzheimer’s Association to identify others like myself.”
Despite being a rare presence, men offer a unique perspective on caring for a loved one and I believe both men and women can benefit from each other’s approaches to caregiving.
I kept both of Gene’s requests; because I could not accept that there were only two caregiver support groups for men in the United States.
It was months since Gene and I corresponded. I asked representatives of organizations again.
Last week, I called the Alzheimer’s Association in Los Angeles to learn if they knew of any all-male support groups. Ninfa, a helpline volunteer, took my name and number and called me back within the day. She regretted to say there were no men’s caregiver support groups in the Los Angeles area. She even took the initiative to look at the Association’s national database and found none listed there, either.
I called Gene to see what he was doing and to follow-up with the news.
Eugene Conrad still facilitates his men’s support group. He begins with five minutes of news updates, and then the men go around the room and share their experiences while trying to help and learn from each other.
I believe Gene is the pioneer I was 13 years ago when I wrote “Where’s my shoes?” My Father’s Walk through Alzheimer’s in response to a deeply felt need. There were few if any books or educational offerings by and for family caregivers just as today, there are few all-male support groups. Since then, thousands of family caregivers have come forward with their stories.
I hope that a similar rate of growth will be experienced by all-male support groups.
Gene invites anyone who is interested in men’s caregiver support groups to contact him at (click on) Gene Conrad. I invite you to also comment below. The more comments received the stronger case we can make for support groups just for men.
Until then, click on the following resources for and about male caregivers.
Resources for and about male caregivers
The Caregiver’s Voice Book Review includes reviews of four books written by male caregivers.
There does not have to be a scarcity of men’s caregiver support groups. Gene has proved that if you offer one, others will come. Voice your opinion by sharing your comment below.