As the caregiver support coordinator at the Detroit Area Agency on Aging, Crystal White’s task is to educate and connect caregivers to community resources – and being a value-added guiding voice is her passion as well.
“Pre-pandemic, the majority of callers were women, with a male every now and then. Over the past year, however, calls from male caregivers began to dramatically increase,” says White.
According to the AARP and National Alliance for Caregiving joint report, “Caregiving in the U.S. 2020,” nearly one in five men are providing unpaid care to an adult with health or functional needs. Of the 53 million such caregivers, 39% are men compared to 61% women.
Male callers, according to White, are asking for assistance caring for their spouses and parents, primarily their mothers. Their needs aren’t much different than the female callers, but White says it is refreshing to hear them reaching out.
“Men, who are used to fixing, solving and producing, are now faced -- maybe for the first time -- with not knowing what to do, where to turn, who to ask, or how to cope. They now have to bathe or provide personal hygiene for their mothers. Some have had to relocate from out of state to live with their mothers. Others are husbands who are watching their spouse’s health decline, not knowing how to help.”
“Being able to support them through the DAAA and connect them to other community partners for resources is the gift of service we provide to anyone on their caregiving journey.”
White says support requests range from needing in-home help, needing a break or respite, to education on how to handle specific conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. She says they also have legal questions around estate planning, advance planning and other essential legal documents.
The DAAA program also offers TCARE Tailored Care Assessment and Referral - a personalized caregiver assessment to determine client needs for resource support, education and advocacy training, respite, and caregiver social events.
White says she’s happy to offer assistance to the men who call and to tell their stories of devotion to family.
“Noticing the increase in male caregivers and hearing perspectives of their journey, the struggle and the love, I knew there needed to be a light shone on the journey of male caregivers.”
To reach Crystal White, call 313.446.4444, ext.5288 or email Whitecr@daa1a.org