As children we are taught to put others before ourselves and we carry this notion into adulthood. I would like to challenge this notion, especially where carers are concerned.
Carers have a constant worry about what would happen to the person they care for, if something happened to them; yet for too many their own health concerns are put on hold, ignored or just not met.
A new Carers Trust survey of older carers reveals more than 80% of carers had at least one health condition, with 66% directly attributing it to their caring role. Astonishingly, over 50% reported 3 or more health conditions.
The survey backs up what we already know about carers, that they put their own health on hold. Over half, 57% of carers, said they had postponed or cancelled their own appointment or treatment due to their caring role.
We can’t ignore carers’ health issues
Carers are all too often going without enough sleep, are unable to take time to exercise and giving up activities and hobbies they enjoyed, contributing further to their poor health.
We cannot afford to ignore the health issues faced by our growing population of carers. More people than ever are caring, and caring for longer and later in life. Carers are vital in supporting the stretched health and social care system. It is therefore imperative their own health is prioritised.
Putting our self first when it comes to health is not selfish and we should not feel guilty, it is vital especially for those people with a caring role.
Carers Trust is calling for local authorities to use their power and add a question to the free NHS Health Check, asking if people have a caring role.
This will help identify carers early, ensuring they get the advice and support they need to look after their health long term.
To take part in the action and find out more, see our Speak up for older carers campaign.
Blog by Louise Marks, Dementia Policy and Development Officer at Carers Trust