Around 850,000 people are estimated to have dementia in the UK, and that figure is expected to rise to 1 million by 2025.
Rising prevalence has led to a number of new initiatives focussing on the condition. In 2015, the Prime Minister’s Challenge on dementia 2020 set out more than 50 commitments with the hope of making England a world leader in dementia care, research and awareness by 2020.
Efforts like this are starting to reap rewards, and there have been recent improvements in the rates of diagnosis and new funds being developed to research the condition.
However, despite these positive steps, we know people with dementia and their carers still find it hard to get good quality care and support or to lead as active a life in the community as they could.
With this in mind, Age UK started looking at what ‘living well’ meant to people with dementia and their carers, and from there we branched out to find an array of services and approaches that could help them achieve this. Our findings are published in a new report, ‘Promising Approaches to Living Well with Dementia.’
There are 6.5 million people in the UK providing unpaid care for sick, older or disabled relatives or friends and each day 6,000 people in the UK take on new caring responsibilities. Without the huge contribution of unpaid carers, our already beleaguered health and social care system would grind to a halt.
Sadly, a large majority of carers are let down when it comes to receiving sufficient help and support when they most need it. In April this year, Carers UK surveyed the public and found that a staggering 74% of those polled felt that carers were undervalued. Continue reading “Next week is Carers Week”
Last week marked 2015’s Carers Week- a week dedicated to raising awareness about the vital role carers play in their community, and most importantly, a week dedicated to giving carers a treat.
The week, organised by Age UK and six other supporting organisations, focused this year on ‘building carer-friendly communities’. Each day had a theme of its own, with Older Carers Day falling on Friday 12 June. Carers Week this year fell helpfully within the first month of the new parliament, and only two months after the first round of Care Act regulations protecting carers’ rights were implemented for the first time- a hot topic of conversation throughout the week.
All in all, this year’s Carers Week was the most successful yet. The Parliamentary launch event which you can read about here, saw over 130 MPs meeting carers and finding out what it’s really like to care for a loved one on a daily basis. The Prime Minister, the Rt Hon David Cameron MP, even dropped in to an Older Carers Day Cream Tea in his constituency. He thanked the carers he got to meet, and commented on the importance of their role within Britain’s ageing society. We hope this will be the start of a positive and fruitful relationship with the new parliament as we work to make sure carers get the support they deserve.
Outside the political arena, other advances were made to improve the wellbeing of carers. Often caring can take a huge physical and emotional toll on the carer, so events like Carers Oxfordshire’s ‘Because I’m Worth It’ where older carers developed a wellbeing plan for themselves, are essential. Carers across the country were offered massages, free cakes at local cafes, and opportunities to have a chat with people who understand what it’s like to care. In addition, there were thousands of information and advice events- like Age UK Cheshire East’s information stand in a local Sainsbury’s – which are vital for making sure carers get the information they need to stay well. Keeping a carer well is, of course, linked to keeping the person they care for well, too.
At the final count before the week launched, over 2,200 individuals and organisations had signed up, there were 1,730 pledges of support and thousands of events set to take place around the UK- it seems there is no shortage of care for carers.
This blog was contributed by Hannah Pearce, Age UK’s joint Head of Public Affairs.
Listening to one of my favourite radio programmes, R4’s Soul Music recently, I was very moved to hear one of the participants Ray taking about his life with his wife Sylvia and the importance of music to their lives. They had married in 1953 and celebrated their Diamond Wedding anniversary in 2013 shortly before her death last year. Ray explained that Sylvia had had dementia in her final years and that life had been difficult but that he had promised when they married that ‘for as long as I could breathe I would look after her.’ It was a small glimpse into the private lives of others and a reminder of the 1000s of people in their 80’s dedicating their lives to caring for loved ones across the country. Continue reading “Caring for life”
After months of planning, Carers Week 2013 is here. It starts today (Monday 10 June) and takes place until Sunday 16 June.
Every day at least 6,000 people start caring. Becoming a carer can impact significantly on a person’s life – it takes time, energy, can leave you isolated and can be costly. Leslie is 84 and looks after his wife Frances, he spoke to us about the impact being a carer has had on his life and his advice for others. Listen to his story.
Last week was Carers Week – an annual week of activity to raise awareness and celebrate the contribution of 6.4 million unpaid carers in the UK. Age UK is a national partner charity and more than 120 local Age UK partners, training centres and affiliated organisations took part. Across the country, local Age UK partners were busy making sure older carers felt special. Many organised special events, like Age UK Derby and Derbyshire who organised pampering sessions, so that carers could have a break.
This year, the theme of Carers Week was ‘In sickness and in health’. Caring often goes further than the wedding vows, it recognises that many carers devote so much of their time caring for a family member or friend; they can often end up ill themselves.
Carers Week highlighted the need for sustainable funding for social care services and the need for better support for unpaid carers both practically and financially. This year’s campaign called on GPs to take an active role in registering carers attending their practices so that they’re sign-posted to support services, offered respite and get the advice and information they need to look after themselves and the people they care for.
Ann Mir, 77, a Trustee of Age UK Camden, attended a Carers Week Speed Networking event with MPs on Monday. She spoke to MPs about her caring responsibilities and the challenges facing many older carers. ‘I care for an 84 year old friend who I have known for 47 years. Mobility is her biggest problem. The last two times she’s been out on her own she’s fallen, so I go with her. Her memory is also a problem. She can’t use the cash machine or remember to take pills, so I liaise with the pharmacist. I also keep her company. My friend has had three bereavements in the last year so it’s been a very difficult time for her. I’m worried that she might be developing dementia. I got the GP to come round to do a home visit, which was quite an achievement, as home visits are rare as hen’s teeth! Hopefully this will help her get the support she needs.’
Ann hopes that by talking to MPs at the event, she was able to convey some of the difficulties that carers face and the need for better financial, practical and emotional support.