More than quarter of unpaid carers of dementia sufferers ‘worse off financially’
More than a quarter of unpaid carers looking after loved ones with dementia have said they are worse off financially because of their responsibilities, according to a charity which is calling on the Government to do more to support them.
Alzheimer’s Society said carers are spending the equivalent of four working days a week providing essential practical and emotional support to those they look after, and facing money struggles as a result.
Its survey of 1,003 unpaid current and former carers of people with dementia found 28% said they are worse off from a financial perspective due to their caring responsibilities, while 16% said they are having to use savings.
Almost a quarter said they have had to cut back on luxuries (23%), or hobbies and leisure time (22%) to manage their finances.
The survey also found that 80% of respondents are classed as primary carers, meaning they take on the majority of caring responsibilities for their loved one, making them the “backbone of their support”, the charity said.
Other findings showed that respondents feel they have lost friends (24%) or lack frequent social contact with others (27%) due to their caring responsibilities, and 26% said they feel they have lost their identity.
Almost half (47%) of those surveyed said they have had to juggle caring duties with working full-time, and almost a fifth (17%) said they have had to reduce their working hours.
Alzheimer’s Society said it is calling on the Government “to take clear action to introduce a sustainable funding model, which pools the risk of care costs to provide people living with dementia with easy and timely access to personalised care”.
It said this must be supported by an “adequately resourced and trained social care workforce”, and there should be better recognition of unpaid carers, coupled with improved dementia-specific support and breaks.
Actress Anne-Marie Duff, whose brother was diagnosed with dementia in his 40s, paid tribute to the charity’s work and described unpaid carers as “heroes”.
She said: “Alzheimer’s Society is a lifeline through some of the hardest and most frightening times and a voice to thousands of families who are living with dementia.
“I know first-hand the impact of caring for a loved one with dementia, after my brother Eddie was diagnosed with dementia in his early 40s. Unpaid carers exemplify what it means to be kind and compassionate – quite simply, unpaid carers are heroes.”
The charity’s chief executive, Kate Lee, said: “There are so many family members and friends providing care around-the-clock to keep their loved ones tethered to the world.
“This vital care can be incredibly rewarding but comes at a cost – often coping with changes to behaviour and carrying out daily tasks many of us take for granted.”
A Government spokesperson said: “Unpaid carers play a vital role in the lives of their family and friends, which is why we have increased Carer’s Allowance and the earnings limit for people receiving it by nearly 40% since 2010.
“Many carers who are in work and receiving Carer’s Allowance will also be receiving Universal Credit – which includes a carer element worth more than £2,000 a year.”
Alzheimer’s Society is encouraging people to sign up for a Memory Walk at https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/memorywalk, with funds raised going towards campaigning efforts and support services for people affected by dementia, including carers.
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