Sometimes questions come up about taking care of an elderly father versus helping an aging mother. Are there differences and if so how do we make it work?
First we have to look at the person’s age. If the person is above 75 he or she have a different experience that those between the ages of 55 and 75. Males 75 and over may have had to quit school to take care of family during the depression or were drafted into the war and left home at the age of 18. When they returned from war many of them went to work in factories and other construction and labor jobs. Women in that age group tended to stay home and raise children. Some women raised as many as 10 children in small homes.
Younger men and women between 55 and 75 probably had a somewhat difference experience. Having been raised by the older group, these individuals were encouraged to go to college or follow in their parents career paths such is the case when we hear about 3rd or 4th generation fire fighterers or police officers. Women started to work outside of the home and go to college in greater numbers.
When we talk about taking care of the older indviduals we have to consider their experience of the world. How they see things, what their experience of the world was and the fact that certain things that are important to them are no longer important to a younger crowd. For example men in the older group tend to be steadfast caregivers and providers. There is no telling them or proving to them that they need help taking care of their wives. In their mind they were raised to believe they should be the head of household and provider for all needs including caregiving now later in life.
The younger group tends to be more educated about disease and caregiving and often younger males will be more likely to accept help and even reach out for resources to manage a loved one’s disease.
In the older crowd, we often argue with them trying to prove they cannot do it alone. This just creates more stress and it challenges everything they were taught since they were little. We need to be more sensitive to their needs and try to figure out how we can get them to try out help rather than force it upon them or make them accept it. If we ask them to give it a try often the experience will be positive and they may be more likely to allow the caregiver to return.
The bottom line is there is a difference taking care of males and females. No matter a person’s age everyone needs to respect the other person’s thoughts, feelings and place in life.