Mark’s advice for male carers this International Men’s Day

November 19, 2022

Mark Challinor works as a dementia specialist Admiral Nurse on Dementia UK’s free national Helpline. He reflects on why it’s important for male carers to reach out for support, even if it feels challenging.

It takes courage to admit you are struggling

Whilst family caring has historically been seen as a female responsibility, societal norms are changing and more men are assuming the role of carer.

As a result, we are taking more calls on the Dementia Helpline from male carers who are supporting family or friends with dementia. In the past 12 months, almost 17% of our calls were from male carers.

Many men may take on a caring role through a sense of duty and loyalty to the person they are supporting. Some feel they are able to cope without any help, but many find it difficult to reach out for support and might feel embarrassed to share their emotions.

Admiral Nurse Mark Challinor

Admiral Nurse Mark Challinor

Some male callers perceive asking for help as a sign of weakness, but it takes a lot of courage to admit you are struggling.

Some men find it easier speaking to a male Admiral Nurse

The Admiral Nurse Helpline provides a supportive and confidential space to talk. Many callers ring to check that they are ‘doing the right thing’ and ‘on the right track’. I provide encouragement and reassure the caller that their feelings are valid.

I also acknowledge what they’re doing already, suggest tweaks that may help, and offer advice on seeking further support.

Callers are sometimes surprised when they hear my voice on the Helpline, but I’ve found that some men find it easier speaking to a male Admiral Nurse as it is easier to build rapport.

When I receive a call from a male carer, I look for conversation starters to find some common ground. This often serves as an icebreaker and encourages openness.

Talking about your feelings can really help and it is essential not to bottle things up inside.

When you support someone with dementia, it is vital to focus on your own wellbeing so that you can look after them. By supporting carers on the Helpline, I know I am having a positive impact on the wellbeing of both the caller and the person living with dementia.

A problem shared is a problem halved

I can say without hesitation that being a Helpline Admiral Nurse is the best job I’ve ever had.

I love giving people hope and inspiration. My experience in dementia care allows me to understand their unique needs and provide them with ideas and coping strategies to help them manage the daily challenges of dementia.

As more male Admiral Nurses are joining the Helpline, more callers have the opportunity to speak to a man if they need to.

To any male carer: if you are struggling, please give us a ring or send us an email. We will always respond.

We are here to listen and talk through any issues that you feel comfortable sharing. A problem shared is a problem halved.

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