Trapped Caring for An Elderly Parent: New Research Finds Rise in Mental Health Crisis for Carers: An ageing population means more people are living longer, and many people across the UK are finding themselves caring for older, disabled or seriously ill relatives.
New research from Seniorcare by Lottie has found a surge in online searches from carers across the UK – who look after an elderly parent – sharing their mental health struggles. Over the last 12 months, more carers turned to Google to seek support with their caregiving duties:
- 1375% increase in online searches on Google for ‘trapped caring for elderly parent uk’1
- 86% increase in online searches on Google for ‘caring for my elderly mother is killing me’
- 25% increase in online searches on Google for ‘carers in the workplace’ and ‘working carers’
Will Donnelly, Care Expert and Co-Founder of Lottie, warns about the mental health crisis for those caring for elderly parents:
“More people are turning to Google to seek support after struggling to cope with the demands of looking after an elderly loved one. The surge in online searches for those reaching out for help is worrying, and it’s clear we’re facing a mental health crisis for those caring for an elderly relative.
An ageing population – and the coronavirus pandemic – has caused many caregiving workers to reduce their hours or quit their jobs. Whether you’re juggling full-time work alongside your caregiving duties, or you’re an unpaid carer for your loved one, you’re more likely to experience stress, burnout, and depression.
Previous research from the ONS has found that one in four older female workers, and one in eight older male workers, have caring responsibilities for an elderly relative. We must raise awareness of the support available for unpaid or working carers. If we don’t, we may be faced with one of the biggest mental health crises across the country.”
Here Will Donnelly – Care Expert and Co-Founder of Lottie – shares the on-going challenges facing those caring for elderly relatives:
1. Higher levels of stress
As a carer, it’s understandable to be focused on your elderly loved one. However, you may not realise that your own wellbeing is suffering. Too much stress – over a long period of time – can negatively affect your health and wellbeing. Watch out for signs of feeling overwhelmed, constantly worried and becoming easily irritated.
According to research from Carers UK, 84% of unpaid carers feel more stressed because of their care responsibilities2. 50% of unpaid carers have said they have felt depressed due to their elderly care responsibilities, leaving them at risk of mental health issues, including depression and anxiety.
2. Increased risk of burnout
Taking care of your own wellbeing isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Too much stress over time can build up and lead to burnout, a mental health condition that causes exhaustion, feeling helpless and procrastination.
To protect your own wellbeing, look out for these tell-tale signs of caregiver burnout. Symptoms of burnout will vary; however, you may seem exhausted, dis-engaged, and the inability to concentrate.
3. Financial worry
Since late 2021, the UK has experienced several changes, leading to rising costs for everyone. Consumer price inflation has continued to rise to its highest level in almost 30 years, and this has had a huge impact on unpaid carers.
Family caregiving can have a big impact on your personal finances. For example, you may have to financially support an elderly loved one or take unpaid leave to accommodate any elderly care needs.
Many caregivers may also neglect planning for their own retirement as they care for an elderly relative, which can leave working carers feeling stressed, worried, and anxious about money.
4. Women are more likely to experience the impact
A huge portion of later life care is provided by unpaid family carers – mostly women.
Caring for an elderly relative can get increasingly difficult to balance with working lives as we get older, and by the age of 65, less than a third of women are still in employment.
Research from Carers UK has found that 60% of informal carers in the UK are women and they are four times more likely to be forced to give up work, due to caring responsibilities.
This could lead to an increased mental health crisis for women, so it’s important to raise awareness of the emotional, financial, and practical support available for carers.
What support is available for unpaid carers?
1. Financial help
You may be entitled to certain benefits paid for by the Government, including a carer’s allowance.
This could relieve some of the pressure and worry facing those caring for an elderly relative. It’s worth checking via a benefits calculator, as you may also be able to claim for support with your council tax or help with fuel costs.
2. Practical support
Caring for an elderly parent can be very rewarding, but it can be a challenge and leave you feeling overwhelmed. All carers are entitled to a carer’s assessment from their local council, so you may be able to ask for additional support (especially if you’re a working carer), or any equipment to make caring for your loved one easier.
Alternatively, if your elderly parent requires round-the-clock support and you’re unable to provide this, you can browse local care homes that offer nursing or residential care.
3. Confide in those around you
It’s understandable to feel isolated and lonely but opening up about how you’re feeling can be a huge relief. Your close friends or family may be able to support you and help with caring for your elderly parent, to alleviate some pressure off you.
Alternatively, you may find it helpful to connect with those in similar situations. A quick search online will show you any local support groups for you to attend.
1 All data is based off an internal analysis from Google’s Keyword Planner (May 2021 – April 2022).