New research has shown that unpaid carers need more support as the majority say they are affected by loneliness.
The research was conducted by Carers UK to mark Carer’s Spotlight month as part of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness.
- 8 in 10 carers describe themselves as ‘lonely or socially isolated’
- Isolation is linked to poorer mental and physical health
- Carer’s UK and Age UK call for carers to get regular breaks to help those feeling isolated.
Isolation linked to health problems among carers
Of the carers who said they felt lonely or isolated:
- 77% said their mental health had worsened
- 67% said their physical health had worsened
Certain groups of carers were more likely to be at risk – young carers, those caring for disabled children and those looking after loved ones as well as being parents were particularly affected.
Charity Director of Age UK, Caroline Abrahams, highlighted the seriousness of these new statistics: ‘These figures from Carers UK show that the needs of unpaid carers are falling below the radar, with many experiencing a profound sense of loneliness and social isolation.
‘Carers give huge amounts of time and energy to support loved ones who would otherwise struggle and the feeling of being ‘on your own’ makes life much harder for them.’
Time to talk about caring
Carers generally reported an unwillingness to talk about caring – a third were reluctant to talk to family and friends, and this contributed to their loneliness. They also said that a lack of time or money for socialising had played a part in this.
The Jo Cox Commission is asking us to Start a Conversation about loneliness, calling on the public to break the stigma around the issue.
Find out more about how you can start a conversation about loneliness
How can we help carers?
Carers UK asked the carers what they felt would have the biggest difference in combatting loneliness.
According to 54% of carers, regular breaks from caring would be the best way to tackle the problem. This was followed by more understanding from society, being able to take part in leisure activities and support paying for social activities.
Caroline Abrahams was supportive of these suggestions and echoed the calls from carers and Carers UK, saying: ‘We need to do more for the carers whose needs are too often unseen. They deserve a regular break, just like the rest of us, and this must be factored into the proposals the Government has promised to bring forward to strengthen social care.
‘In addition, we all gain from interacting with family and friends and unpaid carers need to be included, which may mean the rest of us have to be prepared to flex arrangements to suit them too.’