Unpaid carers spend 1.3 billion hours a year supporting partners and relatives
A “silent army” of unpaid carers spend 1.3 billion hours a year supporting partners and relatives, Alzheimer’s Society said. Their work saves the economy about £11.6billion a year but many will not get a break during the festive season – and will have to deal with the added complications of family gatherings. Alzheimer’s Society chief executive Jeremy Hughes said: “On Christmas Day, when most of us will be relaxing and celebrating, almost 700,000 people across the UK won’t get a break because they are providing round-the-clock specialist care for their loved ones with dementia.
“There is a silent army of people sacrificing their careers, relationships, health and wellbeing to plug gaping holes in our health and social care system.
“It’s a job they do out of love but it’s also one of the hardest jobs around.”
About 850,000 people have dementia in the UK – and this is expected to rise to a million in the next three years.
Research found almost three-quarters of dementia carers experience anxiety and depression and almost two-thirds have become physically ill as a result of their responsibilities.
CARERS: around 2 in five said caring has impacted on their personal relationships and social life
Research found almost three-quarters of dementia carers experience anxiety and depression
More than a quarter report feeling cut off from society and around two in five said caring has taken a toll on their personal relationships and social life.
The charity’s Fix Dementia Care campaign is calling for the introduction of an NHS dementia fund to help families affected by the disease, who it said face typical care costs of £100,000.
It wants every family to have a dedicated adviser and all health and social care workers to have specialist dementia training.
Mr Hughes said: “Successive governments have shirked the issue of our broken care system, forcing people affected by dementia to fend for themselves.
850,000 people have dementia in the UK
“We urgently need the postponed NHS Long Term Plan and social care Green Paper to end this injustice.”
The Department of Health and Social Care said: “We are already looking at how to improve carers’ access to breaks and respite care and our forthcoming Green Paper will look at long-term sustainable solutions for the social care system.”
Join the campaign at alzheimers.org.uk/fixdementiacare. Contact the National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 1122 or go to alzheimers.org.uk
LONELINESS GETS HARDER AT FESTIVE TIME
THE festive period can “amplify” feelings of loneliness, a top doctor warned as she encouraged people to connect with others in the community.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, warned that loneliness and social isolation can be as bad for a person’s health as chronic diseases.
She encouraged people to be good citizens and connect with friends and neighbours in a meaningful way.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard,
Ms Stokes-Lampard said: “Any festival or gathering where people get together can extenuate or magnify feelings of being isolated or lonely.
“People usually are already vulnerable and also it’s darker, the whole SAD (seasonal affective disorder) thing about short days amplifies this.
“As a GP we see people in their communities, we are part of their communities and we see the adverse impact these things have on people’s health – these are as bad as chronic diseases to your health.”
She urged people to become “great citizens” by looking a little bit wider among the community beyond immediate relatives.
by JEREMY HUGHES, Alzheimer’s Society Chief Executive
A MILLION people in the UK will have dementia by 2021 and, while many have devoted family and friends looking after them, many will face dementia alone.
While there are no drugs that can slow or stop the disease, it is community care rather than hospital care that people with dementia rely on.
But decades of squeezed government funding have left many unable to get or afford help, and so partners and families are having to step in.
Tomorrow, when most of us will be relaxing and celebrating, almost 700,000 people won’t get a break because they’re providing round-the-clock specialist care for loved ones.
It’s a job they do out of love.
Alzheimer’s Society chief executive Jeremy Hughes
But, as brought to life by Sheridan Smith in recent BBC drama Care, it’s also one of the hardest jobs around, which requires far more time and training than most people have.
People have told us caring for someone with dementia can feel like working three eighthour shifts a day with no break, and through our helpline we hear of people at their wits’ end because they can’t get support.
It shouldn’t and needn’t be like this.
Dementia carers pay the price financially as well as personally, with nearly a fifth giving up jobs and a quarter reducing the hours they work to make caring a priority. It’s not surprising that a quarter of carers say their financial situation has got worse as a result.
From the woman signed off sick with anxiety and depression after juggling her mum’s dementia care with raising her children, to the man who gave up his career to look after his mum because the only care available was of a questionable quality and cripplingly expensive, we know through our Fix Dementia Care campaign that people affected by dementia are bearing the brunt of the care crisis.