Unpaid carers are seven times more likely than the general population to experience loneliness, according to new research published for Carers Week 2019.
Around 35% of unpaid carers say they often or always feel lonely, compared to just 5% of the general population. For many, this is due to the pressure of not having enough time or money, often combined with a sense of isolation and a lack of support.
There are approximately 8.8 million unpaid carers in the UK, an increase of almost 40% since 2011. This means that more than one in six adults in the UK are now providing unpaid care for a loved one, friend or neighbour.
Getting help with caring – we explore the additional support you could receive if you’re struggling to provide care for a partner, relative or friend.
Older carers are even more lonely
The situation is even worse for older people who take on caring responsibilities. Carers aged 65 years or older are nine times more likely than the general older population to experience significant feelings of loneliness.
The number of carers aged 65 and older now stands at more than 2 million, and many of these have their own health and care needs to look after too.
Understanding the causes of carer loneliness
If you are an unpaid carer there are plenty of reasons why you may sometimes feel lonely. For example:
- You may feel constantly busy, lacking the time or energy to connect with friends and other family.
- You may be uncomfortable talking about caring to others who haven’t shared a similar experience.
- The financial burden of being a carer – which may involve cutting down on or leaving work – can mean social activities you once enjoyed are now unaffordable.
- The emotional demands of caring for a loved one can lead you to neglect your own feelings and needs.
If you care for a loved one, it can be easy to forget about your own needs. So, we’ve created a practical guide on how to look after yourself.
Benefits and support for carers
If you’re caring for someone close to you, it can put extra pressure on your finances. There are a number of benefits available specifically for carers, including Carer’s Allowance and Carer’s Credit. Make sure you claim any support you’re eligible for.
In our guide to benefits for carers we explain how to find out if you qualify and how much you could get. We also explain how to get an assessment to see if you’re eligible for support.
Working and caring – a difficult juggling act
With the rising cost of care, an increasing number of people juggle work and unpaid care responsibilities.
If you’re one of around three million carers in the UK already combining caring duties with paid work, you’ll know it can be difficult to find the right balance.
In our guide to carers’ rights at work, we explain the workplace support that carers are entitled to, including flexible working and options for taking time off.
- Have a look at our advice on taking a break from caring to find out how it can benefit you and the person you care for.