Sunday, June 13, 2021

Male Caregiver Interview: Frances Shani Parker and Frank Gasiorek


                                     Catherine and Frank Gasiorek

I met Frank Gasiorek during a time when he was devoted to taking care of his ill mother who died. Like millions of people carrying personal stories others will never know, he told me he was a caregiver after I happened to mention my involvement with eldercare. According to AARP, the typical caregiver is a middle-aged woman caring for a relative, often her mother. Nowadays, 40 percent of the 40 million Americans caring for loved ones are men. They may accept a caregiving role while having little experience and may be less inclined to reveal their problems to others. 

From my conversations with Frank, I began to view him as an excellent role model for caregivers in general, especially men. In this interview with me, he shared his caregiving journey:

1)   Frank, how did you become your mother’s primary caregiver?

I began my role as my mother's primary caregiver due to being an only son with siblings living out of state. Also, having a strong bond with a person who was a dedicated single parent and mentor during my early childhood years gave me the desire to give back and return the service.

2) What concerns do you think are unique to caregiving of a parent by an adult child, especially one of the opposite sex?

Sometimes different interests and backgrounds may be factors.  However, the realization that I only get one of these, a unique person and mother, is important. As the years passed and more personal care and attention were needed, my mother stated she did not want to live her final years outside of her home. She also did not want outsider care assistance.   

Acceptance of my role as a male caregiver had to be addressed. No longer am I the son. I had to explain to my mother that, when I step in as the caregiver, she needs to respect the care she receives. I am the professional person providing home care. There have been times when she returned from the hospital and then to rehab and back home. I did contract some part-time assistance with homecare nursing for the short term. 

3) Has your being a male made you less prepared or efficient as a caregiver?

Having worked previously within the healthcare system has exposed me to the assistance that comes with caregiving. In addition, having been rooted in human sensitivity has provided me with a foundation to complement the needs of the healthcare person.

4) What are some resources that you have found to be especially helpful and that you would recommend for others?

Always consider the local church, community and city services that offer guidance and support. Public and private agencies are easy to research via the Internet.

5) Do you communicate regularly with other caregivers for support?

Having a network of colleagues associated with caregiving is essential to maintaining balance. A support group with other caregivers creates a bond of positive feedback. Primary physician support staff members are often good individuals for consultations. 

6) Caregiving can be stressful and socially isolating. Have you experienced this? If so, how do you cope with these challenges?

My network of support helps to keep me balanced when I experience challenges. We allow one another to vent our daily drama of caring for loved ones.

7) What rewards have you enjoyed as a caregiver?

Spiritually satisfying, caregiving brings the joy of assisting another person for the common good.  Keeping a person exposed to dignity and love is uplifting to the spirit.

8) What advice would you give to other caregivers now that you understand what this responsibility entails?

Caregiving is not for everyone. Caregiving is not easy.  Caregiving takes planning and involves orchestrating many daily human needs of an individual. Always maintain space between caregiving assignments and appointments to recharge.

9) How can those who are not caregivers support those who are?

Financial support would seem to be the easy answer. Nonetheless, periodic backup team members who are not caregivers can greatly assist primary caregivers. For example, team members can provide helpful phone calls to caregivers and homebound individuals.
   10) Do you have any final words?

Caregiving is a rewarding experience. As our mature population continues to live longer and more independently, there is an increasing need for caregiving at different levels. Respect for life must be admired, honored and planned for to create quality life.

Frank, thank you for sharing your caregiver experience. Your firsthand knowledge will be beneficial to caregivers, patients and many others involved in improving quality of life for those in need of caregiving assistance.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback at many booksellers in America and other countries and in paperback and e-book forms at Amazon booksellers. Visit my website at