Unpaid carers supporting their elderly loved-ones spend an average of 26 hours every week providing care, the equivalent of more than three full working days, research from retirement specialist Just Group has found.
While the majority of carers (72%) provide less than thirty hours a week, this still leaves more than a quarter (28%) providing more than thirty hours a week of caring duties. Seven per cent said they provided more than 100 hours of care every week.
The survey of 1,000 unpaid carers revealed that providing unpaid care has a knock-on impact on people’s working lives. A quarter (24%) of unpaid carers stated that they had reduced working hours or stopped work altogether to support an elderly relative or relative-in-law.
Stephen Lowe, group communications director at Just Group, said: “Informal care is a big commitment of time and money that millions of people up and down the country are making for their loved-ones.
“Providing 26 hours a week unpaid care often carries serious consequences for carers’ finances and career prospects, especially at a time when they themselves may already be juggling other family commitments and financial plans, such as preparing for retirement or helping with childcare.”
When asked how providing informal care had impacted their social relationships, a third of carers (33%) said they felt more socially isolated as a result and more than four in 10 (42%) said they turned down social opportunities in order to provide care.
Care duties also damage close personal relationships, with 40% saying the toll had caused problems in their relationship with their partner, 38% stating it had damaged friendships and a quarter (25%) of people had suffered problems with their siblings.
Despite the stresses, three quarters (77%) of unpaid carers agreed that they were glad they were providing care rather than someone else, with only 7% disagreeing.
“This research reveals the hidden financial and emotional cost carried by those who care for elderly relatives or friends,” said Lowe. “People are soldiering on but it’s clear many people feel they are near breaking point,” he added.
“Until there is a clear policy from government that helps people plan for later life, this is unlikely to change. The government has promised reforms and, after years of delays, it is a matter of urgency that they follow through on their pledge.”