Tomorrow is the United Nations International Day of Older Persons – and Cumbria has one of the oldest populations in England, with 24.7 per cent of people living in the county over 65 years old, compared to the national average of 18.5 per cent.
And many of the older population are also unpaid carers, providing daily care for family members.
The United Nations expect the number of people over 65 in developed countries to rise by 225 per cent by 2050, and the demand for care is also expected to rise.
In Cumbria today more than 56,495 people are providing unpaid carer for loved ones – 11.4 per cent of the population, and higher than the national average (10.3 per centre).
And 13,303 people in Cumbria are providing 50 or more hours of unpaid carer per week.
Research by Age UK highlights that many unpaid carers are over 65. During the pandemic, the number of older unpaid carers doubled to 34 per cent.
Dani Leslie, chief executive of Eden Carers, said: “Over the past 18 months, during the pandemic and lockdowns, older people have been taking on many more hours of unpaid care for their older, disabled or seriously ill loved ones, coping with greatly limited support from services and family and friends.
“The fact that so few older people have been able to access respite care should be a cause for concern, especially given the caring responsibilities of older people tend to be more demanding: they are far more likely to be looking after someone with multiple needs, dealing with complex conditions like dementia and physical disabilities that require moving another person.”
Mike Seaton, chief executive of Carers Support South Lakeland, added: “Being an unpaid carer is a very demanding, and stressful role to play whatever your age, however when you are older it can be even more difficult.
“The vast majority of older unpaid carers, like all carers, do it because they want to. However, caring for someone you love is exhausting however resilient you are. “
Craig Backhouse, chief executive of Furness Carers, said: “We recognise that the responsibilities of being an unpaid carer can change carers’ lives and affect their health and wellbeing, especially if you are older and you are experiencing health issues yourself. Unpaid carers can become isolated and may feel very much alone.
“We provide information on all issues related to the caring role. Our free support services offer not only a friendly, listening ear and individual support but also practical advice, social activities and voluntary sitting services to provide respite.”
On Sunday, Furness Carers will be hosting the Silver Sunday – Celebrating Older People event.
The free event, at The Forum in Barrow starts at 11am and includes entertainment with Chris Barker, music from the South Lakes Rock Choir, Barrow Male Voice Choir, chair dancing, fashion show, bingo and two-course Sunday lunch.
Angela Longrigg, chief executive of West Cumbrian Carers, added: “The Cumbria Carers organisations are here to provide support, advice and practical help that can make a real, positive difference to the lives of unpaid Carers and in turn to those they are caring for.”
All Cumbria’s carer organisation host coffee and lunch hubs, events, talks and activities for adult carers.
There is also Carers Connect, for those who would rather ‘connect’ online or have difficulty getting out or are rurally isolated.
For more information about your local carers organisation
- Carer Support South Lakes, Email: [email protected] Tel: 01539 815970
- Carlisle Carers Email: [email protected] Tel: 01228 542156
- Eden Carers Email: [email protected] Tel: 01768 890280
- Furness Carers Email: [email protected] Tel: 01229 822822
- West Cumbria Carers Email: [email protected], Tel 01900 821976