In late 2003, I became an unpaid carer for my own dad. Overnight, I was thrust into the complex environment that is adult social care. 99% of our Social Care interaction was with females.
Until I started formally caring for my dad, I hadn’t really noticed just how socially isolated he’d become since my mum died in 2000. He would stay at home all day and stare out of the window for hours on end without contacting family or friends. His health then started to deteriorate.
Chris Hill, Founder CM2M
So, one of the first things I did was get my dad a season ticket for his favourite football team. Not only would he really enjoy the matches, (especially when his team won!), but he’d also have the chance to sit with people with the same interests, which would also help keep him healthier. As an added bonus, it would also give me some valuable time for myself. I also had to change to a more flexible career, live closer to home and changed my lifestyle.
What we both really needed was more male support to take my Dad to the seaside for the day or just a pint and meal down the pub. This would have helped us both continue with our lives, and I could support him without some of the stress that comes with caring. As the founder of CM2M I only employ male ‘buddies’ who have gone through our rigorous recruitment process, supporting other older men to do the things they like, even if just a stroll round the local park. Firstly, I employ them only if I would let them support my own Dad/Uncle.
Since caring for my dad, I have noticed a similar pattern for two of my uncles and many other older men. The negative impact on close family is often considerable. Personally, I have been supporting my relatives to give them as much independence as possible. One of my uncles still lives independently, enjoys a pint and meal out, and my auntie continues with her favourite hobby, bowling. It helps keep both of them out of hospital. When my Auntie goes on holiday I’ll take my Uncle out, he is in his 80s but still wants some fresh air and enjoyment. My Auntie gets a much needed break so she can recharge her batteries (she is 80 as well!) and continue to help him. What older men and their families need is to get out of the house and enjoy their lives, this helps them and their carers stay healthy, both mentally and physically. Male company is key to this for the older men, as most informal care is still mainly done by females, and they do a great job.