Senior Men, All Caregivers, Turn to Each Other for Support

Men are now 40 percent of caregivers looking after a loved one according to a 2017 AARP study, but few programs cater to their unique needs. In this story we profile one of the rare support groups for male caregivers in Northern California.

Albert Plante, 79 years old
I’m not a group person, and I had cancer years ago and I handled it myself and there were a lot of groups I didn’t want to come to, but when I found out in 2011 that my wife had dementia, then it presented a different problem because it wasn’t me, it was my wife. So I always believed I could really take care of my wife. But my children, they said, “Hmm umm, Dad, I think you need a little bit of help.” I met Carol and I joined a group of people who had wives at home and they were caring for them.

Carol Kinsel, Owner and Geriatric Manager, Senior Care Solutions
Fair Oaks, California
You meet one person with dementia, but you meet one caregiver, and there’s no two caregivers the same. No two personalities that are going to handle the situation the same.

Albert Plante, 79 years old
I’ve been married 61 years now and I had, I had to know what I had to watch for. And the good part of it was very simply that it prepared me for what was coming next. I didn’t know anything about this, I knew my wife had major problems. But I didn’t know what was coming next.

Carol Kinsel, Owner and Geriatric Manager, Senior Care Solutions
I offered to start up the men’s support group after the budget cuts in our state several years ago. Albert has been coming to the group almost longer than anybody and I have seen him grow through the whole process with incredible family support as well. You know as far as other male support groups, I don’t know of any. I am hoping there are more in the state, it is very much needed. A large percentage of the victims of Alzheimer’s disease are women, so we are going to see more men thrown into this role as a caregiver, and this knowledge and being prepared is critical for them to be successful in their role and also take care of themselves.
I typically go into the support groups with a, an agenda cause I want them to have something to walk away from each meeting with. Often times that agenda is off the table shortly because they start helping each other. And by the time we get around the room, in an hour and a half, the sharing and the camaraderie usually takes up the whole support group.

Albert Plante, 79 years old
Not only do you have to grieve which I do all the time, because I’ve lost my wife but, I, I had an awful lot of guilt, and I think that that’s the part that comes with it, and all I heard from everyone is you can’t live with grief and guilt, and it’s so true. You think you’re the only one, and so finding the first place that doesn’t cost anything, I just… You can’t thank them enough.

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