Skip to content Skip to navigation

My gender preference

June 20, 2016
by Kathleen Mears
| Reprints

When I moved to my previous nursing home 20 years ago, I was on a unit with alert and oriented residents. The female residents over age 80 preferred female aides do their personal care. In my over 14 years there, I got used to female aides doing my care. There male aides worked on the dementia unit and assisted occasionally on my unit.

When I moved to this facility, there were male aides, and I had to get used to them quickly. I was uncomfortable, but I stifled my inner voice in order to get the care I need.

Over the years, there have been no male aides and then just one usually on second shift. I let male aides do my care on second shift as long as a female aide does my peri care. Since I do not want a male aide on dayshift doing my wash up or shower, the female aides do my care. I am sure some of them wish I would just "get over" my discomfort with male aides.

It was, and is, difficult to get accustomed to anyone doing my personal care. In fact, I usually try to be witty when I chat with aides—male or female. I think it makes both of us feel more comfortable. I had to learn to be okay meeting new aides while another aide was undressing me before a shower. Suffice it to say, I try to allay feeling vulnerable.

As I get older I am more leery—especially those who come to work as aides in nursing homes. I am sure my past negative experiences with caregivers loom large when a new aide works with me. And I feel doubly uncomfortable if that aide is male.

I researched the caregiver gender preference issue online and surprisingly some women much older than me prefer to have a male aide do their care. They like the fact that male aides can lift and transfer them easily and felt they are more accommodating. While many males prefer female aides, some men were OK with a male aide assisting them. Unfortunately, some female residents refuse to shower if a male aide helps them.

I realize a resident's aide preference can be difficult to accommodate when staffing is short. But I hope both female and male aides would try to understand my feelings.


Kathleen Mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...