There are over 2 million unpaid relatives looking after the elderly. They play a pivotal role in our society, saving the government billions. With many still raising children, they care for and influence both the young and the old. Their opinions and views are important but they are undervalued and go largely unheard. Unbelievably our society does not properly support them, despite knowing that unpaid caregivers are essential for our social system to work:
- It is estimated that unpaid caregivers save the country around £132 billion, which is almost as much as the NHS budget( £134 billion in 2014/15). An average of £18,857 per carer.
- The main caregiver’s benefit is £62.10 for a minimum 35 hours. This is equivalent to £1.77 per hour, when the minimum wage is £6.70 per hour.
- Both the elderly and society benefit from the elderly remaining independent as long as possible. How long they can remain independent relies upon the support they receive.
- With an ageing population, who are living longer, the problem is only going to get worse.
- People providing high levels of care are twice as likely to become permanently sick or disabled themselves
Looking after elderly parents is a natural life stage most of us face, but it is one for which we are ill prepared. It is a challenging role that is bolted onto already busy lives, creating unbearable stress. The sandwich generation, who are still raising children, are especially vulnerable, as are elderly care givers and those trying to maintain employment but feel unable to mention it to their employers. Major decisions have to be made in times of crisis, with time and financial pressures exacerbating the stress. Social lives are sacrificed, leading to loneliness, depression and bad health. Although the need for information and support is great, this community is not catered for. Not identifying themselves as ‘carers’, information, often needed in a crisis, is not easy to find. We need to support people through this challenging life stage.
To develop ‘Looking after Mum and Dad’ as a social network and community for those who care for elderly relatives, by creating a web site which will provide information and support and, importantly, also give them a voice and a platform.
A sense of fun is very important to us. We want to help improve the lives of our community by promoting the sharing of amusing stories and anecdotes, and taking a light approach to things whenever we can.
With her sister who lives in Canada, Celia looked after her elderly parents for over 5 years. She began by helping her father look after her mother who had Parkinson’s. Later on her father developed cancer – eventually dying 6 months before her mother.
Born and brought up in Africa, Celia spent most of her career in marketing for large FMCG companies. Her last corporate role was for Diageo as Marketing Director Africa for whom she developed and produced an award winning, full length feature film for Guinness Africa. Focusing on the worldwide water crisis, it was endorsed by the UNEP and achieved worldwide distribution, appearing on BBC1 in 2007/2008.
A wonderful mix of mavericks, who have all experienced, or are currently looking after elderly relatives. We share an enthusiasm for life and laughter. Although we are not experts we have a wealth of experience that covers the NHS, mental health, the law, finance, wellbeing, nutrition, web sites, gardening, photography. We come from different walks of life and have different opinions. Crucially, none of us take ourselves too seriously!