Caregivers - why do women frequently carry the load?

Having cared for two sick elderly parents, with almost no help from 4 brothers, I wonder why the Lord didn’t give me a sister to help with the task. According to what I’ve heard, other women have experienced the same. I know there are a few good men out there, who actually visit their mother or father in nursing homes at least once a year, wash, clothe, feed and comfort them - but they seem to be very few in number. Are men more selfish? Do they lack compassion? Why do so few step up to the plate? Or are the ones who take an active role, Christian and the rest - not? I’m starting to believe that male caregivers, have a genuine relationship with Jesus and show their faith by deeds. I’d love to hear from male caregivers and of course, from all caregivers. Gd bless you all and give you strength to persevere during times of mourning, trial.

I have known some good male caregivers. One from our parish took care of his wife who was dying of cancer for quite a while. But the majority seem to be women. It may be that we’re more nurturing and selfless then men, I don’t know. I do know though if I had been in your position I sure would have made sure those brothers helped more!

My husband has been ill off and on and I am a caregiver, but he is an only child, and we only have one daughter who lives out of state. I know I have had to develop a lot of patience with him, as well as out of necessity had to take care of almost everything else.

I don’t mind the sacrifice, but my biggest gripe are friends that don’t understand. They feel that I have so much extra time on my hands that I should be able to drop everything and go out to lunch or shop without realizing we have doctor’s visits and that I need some time for myself. I don’t feel comfortable going out if he is ill either.

Has anyone else dealt with the same things? And how did you cope?

I am not a male or a caregiver, but to be quite honest, I think it is more of a cultural thing. I do not think that because they do not help care for the elderly or sick that they are bad. I have found that men are more independent, so once they leave the house they kind of do their own thing, whereas women tend to keep closer to their family. So it is not necessarily that they won’t help, but their parents and even themselves feel more comfortable with those who are around them more taking care of them, obviously this isn’t always the case. For example, my Grandmother suffered from cancer for a year, but she was more comfortable with my Grandfather helping her. My mom and aunt are closer to her than my uncles, so they filled in as much as possible. My uncles would help in other less direct ways, so it seemed like they were not helping when they actually were. Also, as sad as it is, I think there is still the cultural influence where women have and typically still do fill that role. Like in child care, more women fill those jobs than men because it is traditional. Women, I think, also have more of a natural, maternal compassion. Not to say that men do not or can not, but it is just more common for women.

I was a caregiver for my mother before she passed away. My husband was my right hand man, taking care of the house and family while I was with my mother. He was with my mother while I was taking care of the house and our family.

Now he is as active as I am while taking care of my father.

I am Catholic, he is an atheist. :shrug:

Thank you to the few who commented. I would like to hear from other single women who are caregivers, who lack support from relatives or are going it all alone as I am. Having a supportive spouse is great for those who have been blessed with one, but many of us are alone in life. As for making my siblings take an active role, that puts the onus on me again to do what is impossible - namely forcing people to help when they do not want to or refuse to. Gd bless those (athiests included) who by their deeds, show more compassion and love than those who profess to believe in, know or love Gd, and do nothing to help. I don’t have answers as to why many men run from caregiving responsibilities/neglecting elderly parents. I do believe however, neglect is quite deliberate and they will have to account for it when they appear before Jesus, the One who is all compassion, love, merciful and gave everything He had. The commandments don’t just apply to women.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.