The hidden cost of care

The true cost of caring for the frail, sick or disabled is not generally recognised and the hidden cost often falls heavily on their family. Professionals in the health and social care arena have been warned not to highlight the needs of carers at the expense of the care needs of the disabled. This 'cloaking' of carers' needs intensifies the shift towards rationing scarce resources and merely containing risk. Compounded by increased life expectancy and the continuing reduction in residential care placements, the demand for unpaid carers continues to increase, as do the demands made upon them. Older carers are the most disadvantaged group in Britain.

As eighty year-old Louisa said about caring for her husband:

"With dementia you have to climb into their shoes and try to imagine how it is for them in their world until you are virtually feeling and thinking for them as you would for a young child ... But there's a big difference: a child can learn new things by remembering them - a person with dementia simply can't remember. It's hard work ... having to empathise continuously at this level ... it changes your relationship."

Our own experience, research and casework shows that carers often feel exploited and subjugated. They are usually coping with a situation they did not invite in and over which they have little control. Not being in charge on one's own destiny is a well-documented cause of depression and ill-health. Deferring one's own needs to those of another is stressful and contributes to the caregiver's burden. Some describe their situation as "horrendous", for others it is "a nightmare" which takes a heavy toll on the carer's own health.

Don't Suffer in Silence - contact Advocare

If you feel let down, isolated, are not living your life as effectively as you would wish; if you feel stressed, are unable to think straight, let alone ahead, it may help to talk to someone with similar caring experiences to your own. We can provide support so that you no longer feel so alone and help you to see that you do have options. Please ring our confidential Caring for Carers line (01202) 737592.

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