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Getting older – the caring doesn’t get easier

Note: The following blog post has been contributed by Moira Fraser, Director of Policy at The Princess Royal Trust for Carers

With a big birthday fast approaching, I’ve been pondering the whole getting older thing. Whilst I still regard myself as a Older carerswhippersnapper, the signs are sneaking up. A few more grey hairs  (cunningly disguised). I’m sure I used to be able to read the number of the bus from the end of my street.  And  my dodgy knees aren’t getting any better, that’s for sure. But for now, I can gaily skip on without giving it too much thought.

For older people who are carers though, life definitely gets more difficult. When I did the research for our new report “Always on call, Always concerns”,  I was blown away by what carers over 60 told me they are going through in terms of their own health and wellbeing. 65% said they have a disability or long term health condition. And these aren’t  just the odd niggle – older carers speak about terrible back pain, heart conditions, cancer and trying to care whilst having treatment, and arthritis that makes it difficult to walk themselves, let alone support anyone else to get about. About a third also said they had cancel appointments or operations because there’s no one else to provide care, or because they can’t get round to looking after their own health.

And it’s not just the physical issues. The sadness and loss people spoke about was overwhelming –   that life hasn’t ended up how they expected, that  they might have lost their relationship as a partner and become a carer, and feeling they’re missing out on their retirement. Almost all worried for the future, and what it holds for them and the people thy care for.

A quote from one carer had me close to tears:

“I feel trapped by my husband’s dependency on me; I am unable to envisage a happy future for either or both of us, given the inevitable deterioration in his neurological condition. I am often overwhelmed by a feeling that life is hopeless and lacking in joy.

If you’re an older carer, you deserve better. Perhaps the condition the person you care for has won’t improve. That will always be very hard to bear. But you shouldn’t have to do it alone, you shouldn’t have to become ill because of caring, and you shouldn’t have to lose all sense of your own worth or be without the chance to get a break and enjoy your own interests, even if just for a short while. I hope our report today will help, just a little, to raise awareness.

Related links:

Read our report “Always on Call, Always Concerned” for more details

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September 13, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

3 Comments »

  1. […] Getting older – the caring doesn’t get easier « CarersBlog Share this:PrintMoreEmailDiggLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

    Pingback by Getting older – the caring doesn’t get easier « Carer Watch's Blog | September 13, 2011 | Reply

  2. I’m not yet in the age group covered but I’m very aware that my resilience as a carer has taken a real knock in recent years as I get older. And the effects of caring long-term are a real issue, physically and emotionally. For older carers – especially the longer term ones – it must be hell.

    Comment by charles47 | September 14, 2011 | Reply

  3. I’ve been caring now for 26 years and am still only 51. Trouble is most days my body feels like 81. I’m going to be caring for the next 18yrs at least. Will I last that long??

    Comment by bernardsmum | September 18, 2011 | Reply


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