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Invisible but invaluable army of older carers

Age UK figures, released in May, show an 'invisible but invaluable' army of older carers are saving the health and care system a massive £5.9 billion a year by providing unpaid care.


Over the past seven years, the number of carers aged 80 and over has rocketed from 301,000 to 417,000, an increase of nearly 39%. Now 1 in 7 people aged 80 and over provide some form of care to family or friends.

Furthermore, around half (144,000) of carers in this age group who are caring for someone in their home are doing so for more than 35 hours a week, while a further 156,000 are caring for more than 20 hours a week. As our population continues to age, it is estimated that there will be more than 760,000 carers aged 80 and beyond by 2030.

Majority looking after a partner

The majority are looking after a partner as older couples try to manage living at home for as long as possible, leaning on each other for support. A minority care for disabled sons and daughters.

Meanwhile, the total number of carers aged 65 and over who are providing informal care for another person has risen from nearly 1.7 million to over 2 million in the last seven years.

Comment from Age UK

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: 'We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the hundreds of thousands of over-80s who are caring, many of them virtually full time, saving the country nearly £6 billion a year in the process. More of that money needs spending on supporting them, as well as the people they look after – usually their partner, but sometimes a friend or disabled adult child.

Hundreds of thousands not claiming Pension Credit

These figures come at the same time as a new report by the charity Independent Age has found that nearly 1 million pensioners are living in poverty. In addition, an estimated 750,000 individuals over the age of 75 are failing to claim the Pension Credit they are entitled to, with an estimated 950,000 pensioners in this older age bracket living in poverty.

The report calls on ministers to do more to make older pensioners aware they can top their pensions with other support. The report goes on to make a number of other recommendations designed to help those over 75.

Use Turn2us services to find help

If you are a carer, the ‘Carers’ section of the Your Situation’ section on our website has information about ways you might be able to get help if you are struggling financially. This includes information on Carer's Allowance and Carer’s Credit.

We also have information for people who have an illness, disability or injury and Older people

You can also check your benefit entitlement using the Turn2us Benefits Calculator or find out whether you are eligible for charitable grant using our Turn2us Grants Search.

We also have a Find an Adviser tool to help you find local sources of help, such as carers centres and benefits advisers.


Date of publication: June 2016