The stereotype of a caregiver on the North and Near North Sides of Chicago is a middle-aged woman that helps take care of her parents; however this is far from the truth. Millions of adults in the United States that consider themselves as family caregivers are both men and women, are different ages, have different lifestyles, and different backgrounds.
Something for Everyone
Slightly less than half of the caregivers in the United States are male, and therefore disproves the typical female caregiver stereotype. The way in which male and female caregivers approach their jobs are very different, which makes them experience the happiness and frustrations of the job differently.
Women tend to be more hands on when providing care, while men tend to take more of a managerial role by hiring a professional to care for their family. Most women providing care for a loved one spend over 20 hours each week providing unpaid care.
Age Doesn’t Mean a Thing
When we think of caregivers, we often times think of adults taking care of their elderly parents. This however, is not always the case. When elderly parents live at home with their adult children, the grandchildren can play a role in the care of the grandparents as well.
On average, elderly spouses spend more time caring for their loved one than their middle-aged family members. 10% of caregivers are age 75 or older and about 25% of caregivers are age 35 and younger. Older caregivers are typically able to spend more time caring for someone than younger caregivers, because younger caregivers are usually juggling other responsibilities, such as family or school.
Caregivers are very diverse in race, come from various countries, speak different languages, and live different lifestyles. A study conducted by NAC/AARP found that about 9% of the caregiver population identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). People who identify as LGBT tend to have more challenges than heterosexual caregivers, because some LGBT caregivers do not speak to their families and do not have a family support system.
Don’t Forget About Yourself
Daily stresses of a caregiver can be emotionally and physically taxing on a person. It is important for caregivers to have a support system outside of work.
National Family Caregiver Month takes place in November, and this year’s focus is taking care of yourself. When a caregiver is not taking care of a client, the caregiver should take advantage of their free time by resting, eating well, and participating in activities they enjoy doing.