Older people who are caring for a terminally ill loved one in the Province are being ‘pushed to breaking point’, according to a new charity report.
The report from Marie Curie and Carers NI shows the enormous impact that caring for someone with a terminal illness has on older people’s physical and mental health, and argues that many are missing out on the help they need to look after their own health while caring.
The report makes 14 recommendations to the health service and policy makers to help ensure older carers of the terminally ill get the help they need.
Recommendations include that all health and social care professionals should have a statutory duty to identify older carers and refer them for support, and that older carers should have access to high-quality replacement care to help them take a break from caring.
Craig Harrison, policy and public affairs officer for Marie Curie Northern Ireland, said: “There are thousands of people aged 65 and over in Northern Ireland providing care to a loved one with a terminal illness.
“This caring role is often around-the-clock and can leave an older person feeling physically exhausted, stressed, lonely and depressed.
“It takes a huge toll and many of these older carers are being pushed to breaking point. The health service would be in serious trouble without the contribution that older carers make, but despite the vital role they play, far too many are missing out on the information and support they need to look after themselves and take a break from caring. We are letting them down.”