By Stacey Burling
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) In a recent report, AARP estimated that there are 16 million male caregivers who may not be getting the respect they deserve. From paying bills to driving a loved one in need to medical appointments, the report reveals more men are stepping up to meet the challenge.
During the years when Michael Lewis’ mother declined with Lewy body dementia, his father took care of her. When she got too sick to stay home, James Lewis visited her in the nursing home every day.
She’s dead now and James Lewis, 92, is in a nursing home. He lost his sight to an infection about a year ago and had to leave his North Philadelphia home.
Now it is Michael’s turn to be the caregiver. His responsibilities started out small, checking to make sure his father was safe and taking him to the grocery store and medical appointments.
These days, he visits his father in his new home — Saunders House near Lankenau Medical Center — three or four times a week and calls daily. He gives him dinner, does his laundry, buys his clothes, pays his bills, shaves him and cuts his white hair, brings him his beloved lottery tickets, goes with him to the doctor, gets to know his aides at Saunders, and checks on his old house two or three times a week. Mostly, he talks with the Marine and former Postal Service worker.
“The biggest thing is loneliness,” said Michael Lewis, a social worker whose day job is directing residential programs for a community mental health center.
“Without him,” his father said, “I don’t know what I’d do.”
The son says he’s following the example set by his father and other men in his church. “I don’t see it as a burden,” he said. “This is the way I was raised.”