What it really costs to be a carer to a loved one

SOCIETY calls them “unpaid carers” but they might prefer “husband”, “wife”, “grandparent” or “friend”.

By Surrey Mirror  |  Posted: January 17, 2015

Whatever their title, for millions of over-50s in Britain there is an unseen cost to life and their finances when they look after loved ones.

Research by Saga Personal Finance shows that nearly a fifth of Britain’s over-50s regularly care for an elderly loved one or friend, without financial reward, in their own home or at another location.

Worryingly, an estimated 792,000 of these 3.6 million unpaid carers are forced to juggle careers and forego income to do invaluable work that saves the taxpayer millions.

At a time when they should be making plans for their own retirement, many Britons are instead giving up their time and hard-earned money to help others. The person receiving care may need help because of a chronic illness, disability or frailty and many unpaid carers often foot the bill for a huge range of costs.

The majority say they spend on average £170 per month. Overall that is some £612 million. This figure doesn’t take into account the opportunity cost of not being able to work.

Family carers also spend money on altering their homes to make life better for loved ones. Whether it’s to make their houses more accessible with rails and ramps, or simply upping the comfort factor by redecorating, almost a quarter of the selfless army say they have made adaptations to suit the needs of the person they look after. Such adaptations can cost thousands of pounds.

The cost of major adaptations is one of the reasons why many people are considering equity release. Families are prepared to turn to their biggest asset, their home, to help make life better for them and their loved ones.

Saga’s chief operating officer Jeff Bromage said: “Unpaid family carers do so much good for other people and society as a whole. In doing so, many don’t count the cost to their own pocket or health. They are the glue that holds our caring society together.

“Saga is calling for extra help for those that can’t afford vital home adaptations, which can be vital for the quality of life of both the carer and the person receiving care.”

3 Responses to What it really costs to be a carer to a loved one

  1. My late wife was diagnosed with MS in 1990 and 5 years later she suffered her first epilepsy fit 4 years later. At the time I was working full time, then 6 years later I had to take early retirement, as I was not coping with work and been an unpaid carer. I lost 65% of my company pension, because I did not work until my retirement age. We had to buy a stair lift out of our own money, because the social said there was a long way for one. Our bathroom, toilet and bedrooms were all upstairs. It took months to get carers money. I used to shower,dress, help her with her eating and even changed her cathiter, which was very degrading for my wife and me.The reason I used to change her cathiter was it would get blocked up and we would finish up at the A&E. Yes we lost a lot of money over the years, until my darling wife passed away in 2010. A part of me went with her and now I am under the mental health department and have various illness which are now creeping in. Regards Barry

  2. Kenneth Hill says:

    Will we ever get proper recognition but the actual truth is that this government and any past or future government will help us there will just be more heartache depression ill health and eventually dieing. Slow death .

  3. Donna Waite says:

    I am a Physician, I made the awful diagnosis of Alzheimers Disease in my Mom. My parents chose to live half of our continent away from two daughters,in both directions – it has been a nightmare responding appropriately to every change, and it is impossible to feel that I have some control or understanding of her present condition- provided by my loving 90-yr old Father. The care is expensive and, I hope, caring and adequate. My sister and I visit when we are able.
    This is a warning to families – prepare and keep your loved ones near.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.