4.1 million Brits work an extra day per week caring for elderly relatives

February 6, 2018
  • Carers visit their elderly relatives seven times a week, travelling 13 miles, on average.
  • 57% are also holding down a full-time job and over half still have their own children living at home.
  • Around half of carers have to rely on friends, neighbours and professional support.
  • This issue is predicted to grow, as a further 6.6m Brits expect to be caring for elderly relatives in the next five years.
  • Eight in ten carers would like to do more but work pressure (48%), family commitments (38%) and distance (25%) are the main factors that prevent them spending more time with elderly relatives.
  • 10% of carers are considering seeking professional assistance, whilst 74% state they would be willing to discuss the introduction of technology to help give them greater peace of mind when they can’t be there.

More than four million Brits are spending the equivalent of a full working day per week (7.8 hours) caring for an elderly relative. A further 6.6 million  are expected to take on this responsibility in the next five years according to new research from Neos, the UK’s first smart home insurance provider.

Those caring for an elderly relative make on average seven visits per week, with 26% visiting twice a day to check in on them. This is taking its toll on carers, as they live on average 13 miles away from their relative, with those in the South travelling almost double the distance (15 miles) compared to those in the North (8 miles). In addition to these visits, carers are also being contacted by elderly relatives on average 3 times a week for assistance.

Over half (57%) of those surveyed are also juggling caring responsibilities with a full-time job, which is the most common factor preventing them from visiting their relative more often. More than half (57%) are also part of the growing number of people in the ‘sandwich generation’, still supporting young or adult children living at home whilst also caring for the elderly.

While over half of carers (51%) have family members to offer support, it’s not hard to see why carers have to look beyond their family. A quarter (26%) of those surveyed look to friends, neighbours and professional support to lend a hand. Around 10% are considering professional support in the future, although for 20% of carers this option feels out of reach financially. 

Others are looking to technology to help bridge the gap. Carers UK believe more households should consider using technologies that could help both the person who is being cared for and the carer, as currently less than three in ten (29%) are embracing health and care technology4. Neos’ research shows just 8% of carers say they have installed smart technology in their relatives’ home but 74% would be willing to discuss the possible use of technology with elderly relatives, with 44% of carers believing the key to this being adopted is making sure it is simple to understand.

elderly relatives

Physical safety is top of the list of safety concerns for carers, in fact over half (51%) of carers say there’s been an accident in their elderly relative’s home that could have put them or their property at risk. Nearly a third of these accidents were as a result of a fire, leak or break-in.

Emotional welfare is also a key concern for carers, with 40% worried about their elderly relative being lonely and 20% concerned about them feeling vulnerable and scared on their own.

Neil from Wallasey, is a part-time carer who has experienced this first-hand, “I’ve been caring for my Dad who’s 80 for more than three years now. It’s really tough balancing caring, working and supporting my family. I always visit him three times a week, which means traveling in the car for an hour each time to help him out with cleaning, shopping and cooking. I can’t be there all the time but I really worry something might happen to him when I’m not around. I really enjoy spending time with my Dad but I’ve been looking into things like NHS care and installing smart tech to monitor the home to relieve some of the strain and give me peace of mind.”

Matt Poll, co-founder of Neos, said: “Anyone that regularly cares for an elderly loved one will know we wish we could be there more often than we are. Whilst family, friends and professional support can help, it’s not practical for someone to be there all the time. This is one of the reasons I started Neos, to give people the power to get instant reassurance, wherever they are, whenever they want. Technology can be there when you’re not and monitor the home 24/7 to check that everything is okay. I believe this is a great example of how technology can make life better.”

Madeleine Starr, Director of Business Development and Innovation at Carers UK, said “Technology can make a big difference to carers, especially those looking after a loved one from afar or juggling work with care. We know through increased downloads of our care coordination app, Jointly, that more people than ever are making the connection between modern solutions and caring for others. Yet, while Carers UK’s own research with YouGov suggests that a majority of us use technology to manage money (72%) and shop (71%), less than three in 10 (29%) use the same tools to help with health and care. As Neos' new findings show, there is still room for more carers to use technology and to have more choice in what is available.

For some people, new technology can feel daunting, but there’s a range of user friendly products out there. Thinking about how technology could help maintain independence for the person you support can be a good way to start the conversation about trying something new. Carers should look into technological support in the form of smartphone and computer applications (apps), telecare, and monitoring, or contact a charity like Carers UK to find out what is available. You can buy telecare and telehealth directly, or contact your local authority for an assessment to see if certain technological solutions can be subsidised or paid for by social services.”

As well as instant peace of mind, Neos connected home insurance can detect and help prevent fires, intruders, and water leaks by installing smart devices into the home, which are all controlled by your smartphone. A number of ‘users’ can be added to each home which allows carers to check that everything is okay within their elderly relative’s home. Alerts are sent to users and also nominated emergency contacts in case a threat is detected.

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