Carers are sacrificing their own health for loved ones
Two out of five people who care for an ill, frail or disabled family member are sacrificing their own health to look after their loved one.
That is the shocking statistic in a new survey, due to be published next week, which reveals the impact of caring for unpaid, volunteer family members.
A staggering 91 per cent of carers surveyed in the West said caring for a family member or friend has had a negative impact on their mental health, while two-thirds blamed their own poor health on a lack of practical support from the authorities.
The survey showed that 88 per cent of carers had suffered physically from having to care for a loved one, and half blamed that on not enough financial support.
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Eight charities are coming together next week to raise awareness of the burden of unpaid carers, and to warn that financial cutbacks and less support will end up damaging the health of those who care for others even further.
The Carers Week survey also reveals that 38 per cent have been injured caring for their loved ones, and 39 per cent have put off seeking medical attention, like visiting the doctors for themselves, because they can’t leave the person they are caring for.
There are more than half a million unpaid carers in the South West, and with cuts and an ageing population, the region is heading further in to a care crisis, charity bosses have warned.
“Families are paying the price of a social care system in crisis – too often pushed to breaking point as caring without the right support takes a toll on their mental and physical health,” said Helena Herklots, the chief executive of Carers UK, one of the eight national charities behind Carers Week.
“Carers make an incredible contribution to our society, saving the Government £119 billion a year with the unpaid care they provide to ill or disabled loved ones – it is time they get the support they need in return,” she added.
Carers Week is designed to highlight the plight of people caring for loved ones, like Tracy Sloan, whose son Philip has severe cerebral palsy. She has looked after him for 20 years and put off a regular screening appointment for herself. Then she discovered she had cancer but even after treatment, she had no time for recovery.
“Looking after Philip is so full on, that it just didn’t occur to me to keep an eye on my own health,” she said. “I was really shocked when I discovered I had cancer and needed an operation. I came home from hospital exhausted, emotional and fragile. I really needed the chance to rest but instead I had to deal with Philip’s demands too."