The physical and mental strain of caring “jeopardising” unpaid carers’ ability to care in the future, warn national charities.
Lack of sleep, performing care tasks and the impact on their finances named as top stressors by unpaid carers.
Eight national charities have come together to call for urgent support for unpaid carers to be Healthy and Connected as new research released at the start of Carers Week reveals the toll that caring can take on many carers’ own health and wellbeing.
Released for Carers Week 11th – 17th June, the research reveals:
Almost three quarters (72%) of carers in the UK said they had suffered mental ill health as a result of caring, while well over half (61%) said their physical health had worsened.
Unless more support is provided,national charities are warning that the UK’s carers won’t be healthy enough to care for loved ones in the future.
Carers worry about coping in the future
The research shows:
• Over half of carers in the UK said they expect their physical (58%) and mental (57%) health and well-being to get worse in the next two years.
• Two in five (43%) carers said that they expect to be able to provide less care or no care in the future because of poor physical health. One third of carers (35%) felt that poor mental health would mean they will be able to provide less or no care in the future.
• Older people, especially those over 75 years old, were most likely to say they expected to be able to provide less or no care in the future because of poor physical health (54% of over 65s and 59% of over 75s).
Main stressors for carers
Carers were most likely to say that the impact of stress and anxiety on their own health was their main worry about the impact of caring on their own health and wellbeing.
Carers named the main stressors contributing most to their stress and anxiety as not getting enough sleep, providing hands on care for the person they care for, and managing financially.
Heléna Herklots CBE, Chief Executive of Carers UK, on behalf of Carers Week, said:
“This new research is a stark reminder that the enormous contribution made by the UK’s 6.5 million unpaid carers must not be taken for granted. Without the unpaid care provided every year by family and friends, our health and care services would collapse. Yet the physical and mental strain of caring, without enough support, is jeopardising carers’ ability to care in the future.
“Caring for a loved one too often means carers neglect their own mental and physical health; finding the time and space to be healthy, get enough sleep and maintain relationships with others are all huge challenges identified by carers. Being left unprepared for carrying out care tasks and battling with a complex health, benefits and care system are piling yet more stress onto carers.
“We can all act to ensure carers know about and access help and support as early as possible in their caring journey.
“There is a key role for Government too. The forthcoming Green Paper on social care funding provides a must take opportunity for the Government to put in pace sustainable funding for social care and to improve the support available for carers.”
This year the Carers Week charities are calling on communities, health care professionals, employers, and the wider public to support carers to get connected to health and wellbeing services and support. The week-long celebration of the enormous contribution that unpaid carers make to our communities is also a time of intensive local activity, with hundreds of awareness-raising events taking place right across the UK.