Carers’ Resource Director Chris Whiley is urging older people who look after a relative or friend to speak out and get vital support, as a new report reveals older carers are putting retirement ‘on hold’.
Published today by national charity Carers Trust, ‘Retirement on Hold, Supporting Older Carers’, highlights the challenges older carers are facing.
It includes older people acting as ‘care coordinators’ to manage and find the right care and support for those they look after, causing stress and anxiety.
It also shows people at the age of retirement are having to take on caring roles, involving progressive conditions such as dementia, when they have their own age-related health conditions, such as arthritis.
Mrs Whiley says: “It’s pretty harrowing to see these findings in black and white but it does reflect the experiences carers are telling us about on the ground.
“Carers in their 60s and 70s are saying this is not what they expected their retirement to be like. They are caring for someone, often a husband or wife, who is becoming more and more dependent on them.
“The issue is they want to look after their relative or spouse; it’s what they do as their wife or daughter, but it’s a relentless task and one many are doing alone.
“It can be overwhelming with so many calls to make, systems to navigate and understand; all they want is for someone to help them through it. Carers should be applauded; we recognise it’s a really hard role and we’re here to help them on their journey.
“They can have several appointments to get to every week; they have the extra demands of getting their cared-for up and ready in the morning, and by the time they get out of the house they can be exhausted and frazzled.”
The report also highlights the need for a break was vital to a carer’s own health and wellbeing but many felt they were reluctant to take one unless their cared-for was given appropriate care.
“Planning for the future is also something many carers can overlook. At Carers’ Resource we can help with this by making sure carers have plans in place should anything happen to them,” adds Mrs Whiley.
Key findings of the Carers Trust report
- Care coordination – carers said they were spending too much time, and became stressed and anxious when trying to organise care and support for the person with care needs.
- Carers are caring for someone else when they have their own age-related health condition.
- The pressures around carers feeling they had a ‘duty to care’ – the Care Act recognises that caring should be a choice.
- Lack of appropriate replacement care to enable carers to take a break.
- Access to a ‘care coordinator’ – many older carers felt this would help them navigate the health and care system. It is recognised that with limited resources this may not be feasible; however, earlier referral to a carer organisation may help improve the situation for carers.
- Appropriate and timely access to information and advice about support available locally, nationally and UK wide. This information would need to recognise that not all older carers are able to access the internet.
- Improved access to appropriate and good quality replacement care.