Devastating impact on health of older carers

A report launched today by The Princess Royal Trust for Carers reveals that 70% of older carers suffer a devastating impact on their health due to their caring role. The report “Always on Call, Always Concerned” highlights the concerns of older carers while demonstrating how essential it is to support local centres that look after older carers’ needs.

Based on a survey of 639 carers aged 60-94, the report found that 65% of older carers have long term health problems or a disability themselves and seven out of ten (68.8%) say that being a carer has an adverse effect on their mental health.

Of the UK‟s approximately six million carers, around half are aged over 50 and 1.5 million of these are carers over the age of 60 alone.

The pressures of caring also particularly affect older carers in other ways; a major concern for eight out of ten is what will happen to the person they care for in the future. And only half feel safe or confident in lifting the person they care for.

71-year old Geraldine, who cares for her husband Barrie, says: “I suffer from osteoporosis, scleroderma and Raynaud’s disease. To treat the scleroderma I have to have special treatment every so often or I’ll die basically. Once I put it off and contracted gangrene in my finger. To receive the treatment I have to go to hospital for five days at a time and so try to arrange the treatments for during school holidays so my son, who is a teacher, can take care of his Dad.”

The Trust points out that greater focus on helping older carers maintain their health is crucial. Local authorities and local health providers need to give greater recognition to the benefit of supporting older carers. Centres support carers of all ages, but a high percentage of users of the service are older people. This means that most carers’ centre services are designed to meet the needs of older carers including availability of home visits, emergency planning and group activities that meet the needs of older carers.

Liz Fenton, Chief Executive at The Princess Royal Trust for Carers says: “The survey clearly shows how carers can harm their own health when looking after others. Many carers told us about being in severe pain, with crumbling spines, arthritis, back problems, cancer, kidney problems, depression and heart problems but struggling on in their caring role.

The Princess Royal Trust for Carers is calling for easily accessible, comparatively low cost preventative services at local level which can improve the lives of carers. This will enable people to choose to be cared for longer at home and ultimately save public money.’

Related Links:

Read the report "Always on call, always concerned" here

Alistair Campbell blogs about older carers

Blog post by Phillippa Russell, carer for her adult son and also the Chair of the Standing Commission on Carers.

Carers are discussing concerns of older carers here

Join our Facebook page for more updates on the campaign for older carers

 

Comments

As a mature carer who suffers

As a mature carer who suffers from Ulcerative Colitis I can fully back the findings of this report. I am caring for my elderly mother who has dementia as well as physical disabilites and who needs constant attedance, my condition has had to take a back seat as I cannot even attend hospital appointments because I cannot get anyone to be with my mother whilst I am at hospital on the day when my consultant is there.

How can I obtain a copy of

How can I obtain a copy of the report ?

Hi Paddy, Do you notice the

Hi Paddy,

Do you notice the "related links" above - the top link there is to the actual report. Do let us know if it doesn't work for you.

Thanks!

When experiencing problems

When experiencing problems with elderly carers in the past , I often came across problems of demarcation.

Age Concern could help the caree , but not the carer with his / her problems.

PRT could help the carer , but not the caree.

I have always maintained that the carer / caree relationship is a Partnership , requiring partnership solutions.

Perhaps AC & PRT would take this on board when planning the utilisation of limited resources , even to the extent of combining resources to provide a " One Stop , Caree / Carer Shop " at local level.

Thanks for your comment! We

Thanks for your comment! We believe most problems are addressed holistically and many of the issues faced by carers arise because of lack of or difficulties with services for the person they care for. Our Carers centres are used to solving problems that cross boundaries in the family.

However, we also hold on to the idea that there has to be an organisation in the community that sticks up for carers – otherwise it is too easy just to see the carer as the person who looks after the person with care needs.

This may sound idealistic, but do genuinely believe that Carers centres manage to make this juggling act work. Carers centres are the centre that is all about and for carers – and part of that is looking after the needs of the person they are caring for.

I found Age Concern to be

I found Age Concern to be very helpful in getting Pension Credit for me. I'm 69 and care for my wife who is partially paralyzed and aphasic. Once she became a pensioner, the Pension Credit stopped. I don't know how long I can keep paying the mortgage. I guess one day my dear wife will be taken into care and we will be separated.

Failed bankers continue to pay themselves bonuses while we at the bottom of society wonder how we can survive.

I think it's about time that

I think it's about time that carer's were better paid for the hard work they do, it is a 24/7 job.
I feel let down by this awful system we carer's are saving the government a fortune in care home fee's.
It is a joke to expect a carer who has tended to a sick loved one day and night to then find the energy to go out to work. Who will look after the sick loved one when I am away? Oh I know an outside agency member will come in get paid over ten pound per hour then go home and switch off there is no switch of for carer's only token gestures of help.If I did some how manage to work I could only earn £100 before my carer's allowance would be cut.
Carer's allowance what a slap in the face SLAVE LABOUR MORE LIKE APROX WORTH 35p per hour for 24hr or 71p per hr for 12hr

My mother aged 77 cares for

My mother aged 77 cares for my father who is 79 - he has had a number of strokes, has mobility problems, and is almost doubly incontinent (he needs to be cleaned up, even if he manages to take himself to the toilet) - for this reason it is impossible to find anyone to sit with him even for an hour whilst my mother goes to see her GP. (He won't allow me to do it). My mother has pernicious anaemia and needs regular B12 shots - but she can no longer get to the doctor's surgery to see the nurse. However, my father now ALSO needs B12 shots and, for this, a district nurse comes to the home to give them to him. When my mother asked the practice receptionist if SHE could be given her B12 at the same time (this was very overdue and she was starting to feel very tired), she received a very unpleasant phone call from one of the district nurses, basically, telling her off - saying that the nurse was "fed up people taking advantage of the system" and there was no way that she could have her injection at the same time.

My mother was very upset by this, and still has not been able to go in and get her B12 injection. She is now starting to feel very tired. What on earth is the point of such rigidity? It seems to me that it's not only GPs that need to be more aware of the problems that elderly carers face. (By the way, i wanted to write a letter of complaint to the GP but my mother was too frightened of the consequences of complaining).

To save me repeating what I

To save me repeating what I have just posted elsewhere, please can I ask you to read comment No 9:

http://carersblog.wordpress.com/about-this-blog/#comment-187

and my reply to it. The original post was by my father when, at 80, he was finding caring for his wife almost impossible.

My reply posted this evening tells of how the burden destroyed him.

My mother is 63 and is caring

My mother is 63 and is caring for my 66 year old Father who has mobility and blood clot problems.
I live a long way away only get to visit a couple of times a year.
I have recently noticed a deterioration in my mother, with volatile mood swings and she has mentioned she is not sleeping well.
I don't think she is coping. I've told her that respite care is availble but she is reluctant. She thinks it will be expensive. My father is not totally dependent but her needs help with household chores and medication.
Although my father has his problems I am finding myself increasingly concerned about my mother. What help is she entitled to etc or any advise from any one in a similar situation please.

Hi Sarah, We noticed nobody

Hi Sarah,

We noticed nobody has responded to this yet, so we just wanted to suggest you write it on our discussion boards too. There's an active community of carers there who have experience of almost everything you can imagine; it sounds as though a few wise words from them might be really helpful. To get started you'll need to create an account by clicking on Register right at the top right hand side of the screen. When you've finished making your account, click on Carers Chat in the menu above and choose Discussion Boards.

We've also got a couple of videos that walk you through the process of registering, and then of using the boards, at http://www.carers.org/wheredoIstart . (Hope you enjoy my beautiful soothing voice...)

Ewan,
Online support team.

I was told once that being a

I was told once that being a carer was the only job where my disability would be no barrier to 'employment'. It seems that there is also no age prejudice.....

What I was not told was that it wouldn't even be considered as relevant when I asked for help..... Neither is age!

From the stats above it seems that one quarter of Carers are in their fifties and as many, like me, have been caring for many years they'll have acquired the physical 'wear and tear' of the average 80 year old.....

The problem is one of having one's own physical limitations ignored by those paid to provide aid. In many cases a Health and Safety Assessment would not allow Paid Care Workers to attempt the jobs performed daily by Carers. I was recently told that it took 4 nurses to work a standing hoist, they looked a bit shamefaced when I said we had one at home and had no trouble working it alone.

The other problem is the difficulty in getting equipment that is needed. I was told the hoist would take between 2 and 6 months to get through the Hospital discharge mob as 'it took that long to get one'. Mine arrived in two days from my payment to the supplier. If we could not have afforded it (historic plastic credit limit made it possible) at the time I am sure that I would have found some way to manage and saved the State the horrendous cost anyway - at a cost to my own body.

Things can be made easier with equipment and as we get older/infirm it should be supplied when needed, instead of being rationed at the cost of our health; do we not save the exchequer many times the cost of the equipment we need?

When even Boris agrees with us we must be getting through to the majority of voters.

I can support your comments

I can support your comments on equipment. When my partners shower chair (which we had kept going by bodging for 10 years) finally collapsed the local Social Srvices (after going througfh 3 diff. levels) stated an occ Therapist was needed to sort this. It took 6 weeks to see one, 5 further weeks before a chair was ordered ,4 weeks for the wrong one to be delivered,2 more weeks for the OT to come back out,3 weeks for another wrong set up to be delivered,2 weeks for a part to be chasnged and in the end we have a much less useful chair that we cope with. As you say this compares with 2 days delivery for a direct replacement privately for the chair we knew worked for her! It must also have cost 2 or 3 times as much by the time it had all been sorted out. A voucher issued would have dealt with this quicker and a hell of a lot cheaper.

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