Caring relationships come in a variety of forms and include a mother caring for a child with Cerebral Palsy, a son caring for his elderly father or a wife caring for her husband with Schizophrenia. Typically, when a family member requires care there is a ’primary’ carer who is responsible for most, if not all of the caring responsibilities.
Whilst every carer is unique, they are united by the fact that they work hard every day to care for their loved ones without remuneration for their efforts.
When caring is a full-time responsibility, the opportunity to earn a living is lost for the carer, just as much as it is for the person being cared for which results in households falling further into poverty as a result. In the countries where we work, we have found that there are few social security benefits available for carers. Many carers are not aware of the ones that do exist. Our research across India, Nepal and Bangladesh has found that a staggering 92% of carers worry about not having enough money to meet their family’s basic needs.
As well as missing out on livelihood opportunities, carers often have to curtail their social and leisure activities including forgoing family gatherings and community events. Public spaces that aren’t adapted for people with mobility issues mean it is often challenging for carers to be able to take a relative with disabilities to social activities. The stigma attached to many physical and mental health conditions means it can be safer for carers and those they care for to remain at home instead of going out in public where they could face discrimination and abuse. This isolation partially explains why 89% of carers we have worked with report feelings of anxiety or depression.
It is not only the health of the person who is being cared for that requires attention. Our research has found that 48% of carers are concerned about their own physical health but they are unable to seek medical treatment due to a lack of time or because of their financial situation. If a carer’s health deteriorates this can negatively impact the quality of care that they provide for their loved one and result in two persons of the same family requiring a carer.
We recognise that caring can adversely affect the economic, social, mental and physical wellbeing of carers.
Here at Carers Worldwide we are committed to transforming the lives of carers and ensuring that their own needs are routinely met.