The 9th of September is National Dementia Carers Day and at Cera we felt that it is essential to highlight the important and influential role of family members in the role of caring for those that suffer from dementia.
Often, they dedicate their whole lives to making sure that the person in their care can get the very best out of life.
In 2015, the Alzheimer’s Society published figures that detailed the total cost of dementia to society in the UK as £26.3billion, with an average cost of £32,250 per person with dementia. Specifically, they stated that people with dementia and their carers are left footing a £5.8billion social care bill for everyday tasks like washing and dressing.
We want to further highlight the costs felt by those unpaid carers and the impact it has on their lives.
Continuing and ongoing healthcare from the NHS
According to the latest figures 59,000 people are provided with Continuing Healthcare from the NHS.
Continuing healthcare can take many forms, including home care and in-hospital care and caters for a variety of conditions, not just dementia.
With the number of people in the UK suffering from dementia estimated at 850,000, this barely scratches the surface. Often, it falls on family members, friends and loved ones to give the care where it’s required.
The financial implications felt by those providing unpaid care
In the UK, there are 670,000 people providing unpaid care to loved ones suffering from dementia. Of this, 20% have given up work completely to do so, while one quarter have reduced their hours to meet the care demands of their loved one.
For those who have had to leave their jobs completely, this equates to 134,000 unpaid carers across the UK. When providing care for over 35 hours a week, each of these carers will be entitled to just £64.60 a week in benefits through the Carers Allowance.
When compared with the average weekly wage in the UK, that’s an annual shortfall of £23,576.80, meaning they will bring in just 12.47% of the average weekly wage.
For all the carers in the UK, this totals £60,755,600 a week in lost wages.
The financial pinch felt by those having to give up work to care for a loved one is huge. But it isn’t the only sacrifice they make.
The emotional and mental strains experienced by unpaid carers
When caring for a family member or loved one, this demands sacrifice. One that inevitably involves, time, money and much in the way of social and mental support.
Unfortunately, this can negatively impact carers and cause them a variety of problems. These include:
- Loss of appetite – 13% of carers
- Exacerbating an existing condition – 20% of carers
- Developing their own health conditions – 23% of carers
- Having to see their own GP – 29% of carers
- Physical strain (e.g. back) – 33% of carers
- Feeling short tempered and irritable – 42% of carers
- Feeling depressed – 43% of carers
- General feelings of stress – 59% of carers
- Disturbed sleep – 64% of carers
- Feeling tired – 76% of carers
Looking specifically at carers assisting with loved ones suffering with dementia, this suggests that 288,100 people are feeling depressed and 395,300 are suffering with stress due to their ongoing care responsibilities.
This can be hugely detrimental to that individual. Coupled with the figure that 38.7% feel socially isolated and have little social contact with the outside world, it illustrates the true sacrifices made.
The strain this can put on the NHS
One of the biggest problems faced by the NHS is the cost of dealing with unnecessary appointments. The latest data illustrates that they are coping with 5.8million unnecessary emergency admissions every year, of which 8.62% could have been avoided through better and earlier care for dementia.
The current number of dementia sufferers and lack of sufficient care isn’t just affecting their loved ones and carers.
An ongoing problem
Dementia will continue to have an ongoing impact on the UK economy and specifically the lives on those unpaid carers dedicating their time to look after loved ones.
According to the latest data, the number of people with dementia in the UK is forecast to reach over 1 million by 2025 and over 2 million by 2051, while 32% of people born in 2015 will go on to develop dementia.
Family members and unrecognised carers do so much to fill the care gap before someone is officially diagnosed with dementia. They make huge sacrifices to make sure that those in their care can get the most out of life.
It’s vitally important to celebrate the work they do and truly showcase the hidden costs and sacrifices they make every single day. Crucially, however, is that they have the support required to help them do what they do.