Following on from the recent post on who should care for our elderly relatives, you might be interested to read some of the statistics surrounding the unsung heroes who have devoted their latter years to caring for their spouses or other loved ones.
It might surprise you to know that the number of carers over the age of 85 has trebled in the 15 years since the millennium celebrations, an increase of dramatic proportions. In a recent study published by Age UK and Carers UK, it was revealed that many of the country’s oldest people are now risking their own health as they endeavour to support frail or sick family members or spouses. Based on census findings and survey results, the study highlights the ongoing dementia epidemic in Britain as having the biggest impact on the way we can expect to live during our latter years; particularly as more than half of carers aged 75 or over are looking after someone with dementia. It also brings to light how older men in particular, despite having a shorter life expectancy than women, still shoulder the burden for the majority of the care.
The study reveals that the number of carers in England over the age of 85 rose by 125% between 2001 and 2011 to reach a total of more than 87,300, while it’s estimated that that figure has increased further to over 116,000, an increase of 300% since 2001. This means that almost one in 10 people over the age of 85 now care for a loved one, despite the fact that they have reached an age where they are likely to need care themselves. And there doesn’t seem to be any good news on the horizon, with the number predicted to almost double again, suggesting that there’ll be over 200,000 carers over the age of 85 by the year 2030.
The amount of care hours was also put under scrutiny, with the study finding that approximately one third of carers in their late 60s and early 70s provide in excess of 50 hours of care per week. However, this leaps to 55% among carers over the age of 85, and once again highlights the pressures that older carers are putting on their own health and well-being, particularly as 60% of those providing more than 50 hours of care per week describe their own health as being less than satisfactory.
While we’re well aware that the ageing population is presenting a major challenge for social care agencies, the NHS and the government to not only increase the amount of care available, but also to support the escalating number of older carers, as ever, funding is an issue. And as older carers are currently making a contribution which is estimated to be worth £15 billion a year, it simply highlights the amount of shortfall in the care budget.
If you’re caring for a spouse or relative, you may want to consider making your home as safe and as practical as possible by having a walk in shower or bath fitted, which will at least take some of the pressure and strain away surrounding bath time. To find out more, simply call us on one of the numbers at this top of this page.