Despite being spotlighted or criticized for the wrong reasons, new report by AARP (formerly called the American Association of Retired Persons) shows that there are actually millions of African American men who are caretakers for family members and loved ones.
“You rarely see a report talking about African American male caregivers,” Rita Choula, director of caregiving at the AARP Public Policy Institute, said. “There is this perception of males in general that they are not family caregivers. Or our expectation of the male caregiver is that there is a brother that slides in and pays the bills and slides back out.”
The data AARP gathered shows that’s not the case. “They are bathing mothers, making meals and conducting complicated wound care or medication regimens,” Choula said.
Black men make up 15 percent of Black caregivers and they’re not asking for any help when they need it.
“Since people don’t think of them as caregivers, they know that and don’t feel comfortable stepping out there and being a caregiver,” retired EMT Michael Williams told Next Avenue. “They know people find it unusual.”
Williams is Black and cared for his mother who has Alzheimer’s but ended up putting her into a home because he couldn’t quit his job to give her the attention she needs. His family criticized him for the move.
Add to the stereotypes the fact that Black people in general don’t ask for help and Black make caregivers often find themselves exacerbating the stress of caring for loved ones
“My experience has been that Black males don’t reach out soon enough,” she said. “African Americans (in general) don’t reach out soon enough, especially for a diagnosis. Sometimes they are not aware of the resources. Sometimes they don’t want anyone to know that their loved one has some form of dementia.”
“Don’t feel like you’ve got to handle it by yourself,” Williams said. “A lot of men, their pride won’t let them ask for help. There are a lot of people who offer help, and they turn it down. If someone offers help, accept it.”