Retirement on hold

Barely a week goes by without a news item, TV programme or report being released about how we are all living longer, and how an increasing number of people will need some level of care and support from relatives and friends as well as the state. What we don’t often hear about is the growing numbers of elderly people who have a significant caring role. Older carers are very often caring for a spouse with dementia or adult children with a learning disability or mental health condition. According to the last national Census there are 764,001 carers over the age of 70.

OlderCarersCaring for someone at any point in our lives can be rewarding but also physically and mentally exhausting. Can you imagine being in your 70s 80s or even 90s and having to get up several times in the night to attend to a sick or disabled relative? Having to organise appointments, transport, monitor medication, help someone to wash and dress and move positon as well as carrying out all the daily tasks of running a household? It makes me feel exhausted just thinking about it, but for many people who should be thinking about easing down and enjoying the freedom of retirement this is the daily reality.

For elderly people, who may have health and mobility problems themselves, caring can have a serious impact on their future health and wellbeing. Carers often put their own health needs on hold and delay appointments and operations because they do not like to leave the person they care for. Many carers will go on to need care and support themselves. As a society we need to do more to support this often over looked group of elderly people, who are saving the country a vast amount of money by ensuring those they care for stay as well as possible in their own home.

Many older carers go unidentified and can be isolated from their family, friends and community. It is of course vital that health and care staff recognise the needs of older carers and identify them early, but they are not the only ones, we as citizens all have a part to play. Older people are notoriously difficult to reach and often do not identify as carers. As part of a family or community we must all be alert to the needs of older carers to ensure they can receive much needed support.

Louise Marks is Dementia Policy & Development Officer at Carers Trust


August 4, 2015 - Posted by | Dementia, Older carers

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