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September 27, 2007 - 4:36 am

I recently a href=”http://drhelen.blogspot.com/2007/09/graying-of-kindergarten.html”wrote a post /a about the booka href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0446580961?ie=UTF8tag=wwwviolentkicomlinkCode=as2camp=1789creative=9325creativeASIN=0446580961″ emMicrotrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes./em/aimg src=”http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=wwwviolentkicoml=as2o=1a=0446580961″ width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”" style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” / The book is chockfull of data on various trends in the US that are kind of under the radar, trends that no one really notices but that are very important. One of these trends is dutiful sons who are caregivers to their parents. br /br /Now, most of the time when we hear about caregivers to parents, we are told that women are shouldering the burden of this work. In fact, there a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/26/business/26leonhardt.html?ex=1348545600en=594e67d014f6dc88ei=5124partner=permalinkexprod=permalink”is a recent study /ashowing that women are unhappy and one of the reasons is that they are not engaging in pleasurable activities. An example given is that when women are with their parents they are unhappy because they see it like a job (paying bills for parents, etc.) whereas men are just out to have a good time. Yeah, whatever… br /br /The implication is that men just see their families, especially parents as a “good time” (although frankly, maybe this is a better attitude) while women care for their aging parents in droves that should qualify them for sainthood. But quietly and without complaining, men around the US are taking care of their parents and in record numbers, yet no one cares.br /br /Even Mark Penn, the author of emMicrotrends/em has to explain that women are tops in this area before turning to the caretaking men. “Clearly, the bulk of the caregiving burden in America falls to women,” he laments. However, the next paragraph belies the implication that men do not shoulder much of the responsibiity of their parents’ care:br /br /blockquoteAccording to a 2004 study by the National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP, nearly 40 percent of the 44 million people in America who provide unpaid care to infirm adults are men. That’s about 17 million sons, sons-in-law, nephews, brothers and husbands caring for loved ones in their “spare” time. Throughout the 1990′s, the fastest-growing group of relations providing care to chronically diabled adults was sons. /blockquotebr /br /The book gives various reasons that sons are caring for parents, and it makes several interesting points. Male caregivers more often help emother/em men–35 percent compared to only 28 percent of caregiving women who do. Male caregivers tend not to suspend or cut back on work, and they are much more likely (60 to 41 percent) to be working full-time, and the men often choose their situation, moreso than women. Almost two-thirds say they had a choice in the matter, compared to fewer than 3 in 5 women.br /br /The book points out that maybe men have gotten a bad rap when it comes to taking care of their parents–gee, do ya think? Women often go on about how lazy men are or how they won’t help out but if almost 40% of parental caretakers are men and many of them have full-time jobs, that seems like a lot of work to me. Plus, men are taking care of other men, I wonder why? Are women less willing to help fathers as they are mothers? Or do sons prefer to help fathers or do they do it because no one else will? br /br /I can think of several men that I know who have sole caretaking duties for their parents, I am sure most of us can. So the next time you hear that men just look out for themselves and engage only in pleasurable activities that suit themselves, remember to check out the facts, they are often different than they appear.

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