A carer is anybody who provides unpaid support to a family member, partner or friend who needs help because of their illness, frailty or disability.
Most people will have caring responsibilities at some time in their lives, and will have to face the challenges that these responsibilities bring. Many carers juggle their caring responsibilities with work, study and other family commitments.
Some people, particularly younger carers, may chose not to be known as carers, and avoid telling relatives, friends and health and care professionals because of fear of separation, guilt, pride or other personal reason.
Recent polling (2019) published by Carers UK has suggested there could now be as many as 8.8 million adult carers in the UK, compared to 6.3 million adult carers recorded in the 2011 Census. The number of people aged 65 years or over who are caring has grown from 1.4 million to potentially over 2 million. This is a 43% increase from 2011 to 2019.
In addition research – conducted by the universities of Birmingham and Sheffield – was highlighted on Carers Rights Day in November 2019 by the Charity Carers UK and claims that two thirds (65%) of all adults can expect to care for a loved one in their lifetime. Women are also likely to be unpaid carers at an earlier age than men – on average in their 50s – causing them to need to juggle caring with other work and family responsibilities.
Separate research by the charity Carers UK also highlights the consequences for carers coping without support. In a study of those caring more than 50 hours a week, almost half (49%) reported their finances had been negatively impacted, 52% had suffered poorer physical health and the vast majority (77%) were suffering from stress or anxiety as a result of the impact of caring on the carer.
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You may also find the Rethink carers information pages useful.