Handle with care

Melida Butler and her son, Marcus Waller, outside their Chicago home.

When 83-year-old Melida Butler’s memory began to fail and rheumatoid arthritis made simple tasks painful, her son Marcus Waller, a USPS mail handler, put his personal life on hold to become her primary caregiver.

“I’m playing this all by ear,” Waller told The Wall Street Journal last week.

According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, Waller is part of a growing trend.

Daughters traditionally assume the role of caregiver, but the alliance estimates 17 percent of all caregivers — or 7.4 million people — are sons.

Men ages 18-34 are already as likely to be a caregiver as women in that age group, according to AARP.

Each day, Waller prepares his mother’s meals, bathes her and gets her ready for bed at their Chicago home. He arranges her doctor’s appointments and takes off work when emergencies arise.

The situation is stressful, but Waller thinks of friends who have lost their parents. “As hard as it is, it’s rewarding to know she is still here and I can still take care of her,” he said.

Waller’s older brother calls him a hero, but Waller doesn’t see it that way.

“You do what you have to do,” he said.