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Retirement on hold

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Care and support, Carers strategy

Most of us dream of a retirement where we can put our feet up, live stress free and take up activities or hobbies we had never had the time to do before.

As Carers Trust promote their new report, Retirement on hold – supporting older carers, Louise Marks, the charity’s Dementia Policy and Development Officer, explores how ambitions can be delayed or unrealised when supporting loved ones with long term illnesses, disabilities or struggles with drugs and alcohol.

Louise Marks: 'We have been campaigning for a better deal for older carers.'

The report sets out the issues older carers told us they faced, and makes recommendations to ensure they get the vital support they need now and in the future.

Carers Trust are calling on local and central government to make sure the growing numbers of older carers are well supported and considered a priority when planning services for the future.

These men and women have given up their well-earned retirement and are increasingly at the sharp end of the social care funding gap.

We have an ageing population, with people living longer and often with multiple long term health conditions.

Alongside the growing numbers of older people with poor health, we have a growing population of older carers who are looking after them. The number of carers aged 85 and over grew by 128 percent in the last decade (Carers UK and Age UK, 2015).

As we get older we feel increasingly tired, and may develop our own age-related health problems. Under normal circumstances we would slow down, take a rest in the afternoon, sleep late and generally take it easy. This is not possible for older carers who say they are exhausted.

When I was at work and was sick I could take time off and rest. That’s not possible now; I have to haul myself out of bed to take care of my mum.

I have worked all my life, but this is the hardest job I have done. I never dreamt I would be doing these things for my wife. I want to do it but it I must admit it was a steep learning curve, I am 90 now and have had to learn new skills to care.

Over the past year, Carers Trust has been working to increase awareness of the issues faced by older carers, and campaigning to ask for a better deal for older carers when it comes to offering them vital support.

Carers Trust has run two successful actions as part of the campaign.

The first action saw carers and supporters contact over 300 local councillors to ask for improved coordination of care services, to prevent them having to attend multiple appointments and make multiple phone calls.

In the second action, nearly 250 carers and supporters contacted their local Clinical Commissioning Group and Health and Wellbeing Board to ask for a better deal when it comes to carers’ health.

It is well recognised that caring is a health risk factor. We must prioritise carers’ health, make it easier for them to take time out to attend appointments and keep up activities.

After all, if a carer is forced to stop caring because they are unwell, the person they care for is likely to need crisis or unplanned care, costing the health and social care system time and money that could be better used for prevention. That’s why, if we can invest more in older carers now we help safeguard our own future health and care needs.

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  1. Comment by J.E.Laney posted on

    These comments are all true and valid but how do they help me now? It has always been easy to state the problems and talk about solutions but nothing ever seems to happen.

  2. Comment by Terry Snow posted on

    'if we can invest more in older carers now we help safeguard our own future health and care needs"

    How will this work? Who contacts whom?

  3. Comment by cliff slack posted on

    Is it possible, if you have promotional info literature, to signpost carers to our dementia support singing sessions?
    We are a voluntary initiative, now running 15 clubs across East Sussex, offering free support activity, using a pro tutor, with innovative and positive group singing methods, and encouraging community performance.

  4. Comment by christine rumney posted on

    Hi Louise
    Intersting report although references to further support mentioned in report are mainly for young carers !
    I have included a message I sent to my MP only yesterday, which details
    what Carers are having to also manage on top of caring.

    Dear MP
    I would appreciate your support in looking into SMBC's decision to change vulnerable people's current care providers without proper consultation with user's and their carer's and with only 8 week's notice !
    My mum is 93ys old and fractured her hip in a fall at home 2yrs ago which she recovered from but resulted in limited mobility, she also has dementia.
    Mum has lived in Shirley for over 55 yrs and wants to stay in her own home, she has x 4 care visits a day and daily support from myself and sister.
    I gave up a full time career last year as I found working full time and caring for my mum an impossible task and it was starting to affect my own health.
    In October 2016 we received a letter from SMBC Adult Care & Support Directorate informing us that the Council was inviting care providers to tender for care in Solihull.
    The letter told us there was nothing that we needed to do and that the provider that we have may still continue to provide Mum's care. The letter also stated that if there were to be any changes that would affect Mum's care we would be told without delay.
    We have heard nothing until a letter arrived last week informing us that Mum's current care agency will be no longer providing mum's care from beginning of April 2017 !
    I am pleased to read on your home page that the consultation into the cycle path in Damsonwood has been extended but find it upsetting & unbelievable that there has been no consultation with care users and their family about huge changes in their daily care ! and only 8 weeks to prepare elderly & vulnerable for a change in carers ,who many will have developed friendship with their current carers,as they have no family or active friends.
    I welcome your thoughts

    Kind Regards
    Christine Rumney
    Solihull Resident

    • Replies to christine rumney>

      Comment by Louise marks posted on

      Hello and thank you for taking an interest in the blog apologies for the late reply. I have been of sick with a chest infection, it had me thinking how would I manage if I was a full time carer as has been said before there is no sick leave for carers.
      It is hard when we keep repeating ourselves and carers voice their needs issues and concerns and sometimes see little change, we must not give up though, I will keep shouting loudly for the needs of older carers and hope for change in the future.
      Christine are you in touch with any local carers services , all local authorities have a duty to deliver a carers service , the support I have to say varies from area to area, if you google carers service and your area it will come up. Carers Trust has over 100 local services supporting carers.
      also under the new care act all carers are entitled to a carers our assessment this is carried out by the local council and looks at your needs as a carer. For more info have a look on our website
      I know it is easy for me to say but also look after yourselves

  5. Comment by Pearl Baker posted on

    As an OLD Carer for a number of individuals, i receive no help at ALL, not even travelling expenses.

  6. Comment by SteveDee posted on

    We have heard it all before, all the fine sentiments, all the standard cliches, all the empathetic speeches from the powers that be.
    And of course, all the 'we visit when we can', 'you only have to ask', 'really, no, surely you must be blowing things out of proportion?', from the rellies before they run back to their safe secure lives..
    Slightly tongue in cheek? Perhaps, but as the cliches go, if one can't take a joke not should not have joined.. and anyway, if not you, who?
    x one very tired long term Carer.

  7. Comment by Peter Goodall posted on

    I am 84 years, suffer from Type 2 Diabetes, insulin dependent, Sleep appnoea, requiring a CPAP machine to sleep, and I have to have two hearing aids a product of mastoids when young. I am the sole carer for my wife who has advanced dementia/Alzheimer and who is 81. She has no cognizance at all, and no interest in anything except smoking which I detest although I am now her main method of finding her cigarettes. She gets very aggressive if she doesn't get one. I receive a small allowance from Essex Social Social services to cover 4 hours respite care a week. I was a keen golfer but cannot play any more because I can't afford (a) the six h ours time paid for a carer and (b) the cost of a game. Hence I have put on a considerable amount of weight (no good for diabetes). My wife sleeps most of the day now, does not eat (other than chocolate peanuts and raisins) and Fortisip drinks. I get little sleep at night as she constantly questions me about ny identity and I have to help her in and out of bed about four times a night. My savings are just above the threshold for social care. I receive good advice frequently about putting her in a care home for respite but you have to wait for a care home to have a bed vacant mostly just when you don't want it. I am exhausted and getting very cross by the evenings. We have lost all our friends and I am very lonely. Our family are quite widespread and we rarely see them. I think they are worried that they will become the same. I donate about a £1,000 a year to charity. I love my wife dearly and it would make me very unhappy if I had to give in and she had to finish up in a care home. I used to be very intelligent but I feel that I too am losing it.