Male family caregivers are more likely to suppress feelings of depression and mistakenly believe that they are capable of overcoming all the hurdles of caring for people with dementia, the Taiwan Catholic Foundation of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia said yesterday.
Cases the foundation cited include a son who had taken care of his mother with dementia for years before strangling her to death in 2012; an elderly man who last year committed suicide along with his wife who had dementia; and another elderly man whose wife had dementia whom he killed before attempting to commit suicide.
The cases were cited by the foundation to demonstrate the predicament of male caregivers, who are less inclined to be honest about their stresses.
These factors may lead to tragedies exemplified by these cases, in which the male caregivers took extreme actions when they were overwhelmed by their burdens.
Teng Shih-shung (鄧世雄), the foundation’s chief executive director, said that of the 1,693 calls the foundation received last year seeking consultations or services, only 30 percent were from men.
Furthermore, only 20 percent of the 117 people who participated last year in the foundation’s care training classes and support groups were male.
The low participation rate shows that male caregivers are less likely to ask for help, Teng said.
In light of the phenomenon, the foundation has published a booklet authored by a professional group with 13 years of experience in caregiving that details the best ways to tackle the most common problems for caregivers of people with dementia.
Foundation director Wang Bow-yin (王寶英) said that under the nation’s 10-year long-term care project, family caregivers can now benefit from support groups and caring skill courses from the government and social welfare groups, as well as home services, daycare services and respite care services, helping to share the burden of care.
Caregivers are not left unaided and in the ethical bind of having to send their loved ones to nursing institutions because they have no other choice, Wang said.