Concerns were expressed this week by Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Older People, Mary Butler regarding the number of older people acting as carers for loved ones and relatives.
Deputy Butler was commenting after the latest tranche of information from Census 2016 was released by the CSO. Between 2011 and 2016, there has been an 18.5% increase, from 24,746 to 29,311, in the number of people, aged 65 year or older, providing care for their loved ones.
“This is a major worry to me. These dedicated people are fulfilling the role of the State in providing care to those living with illness or disability. My concern is who is looking after the carers? These carers also have needs and they also need support themselves,” she said.
The Waterford based deputy continued that those aged over 65 years of age were, on average, providing 1.43 million hours of care per week. This is an increase of 12% in just five years.
“We are seeing an unfair burden being placed on older people, and one I feel that must be addressed.
In the 85 years and up bracket, we have seen a 34% increase in the number of people providing care either to their spouse or sick son or daughter.”
She said it was clear to her from her work on the ground as a constituency TD and in her engagements with a variety of older persons’ organisations, that older people were not receiving the supports they need.
“Not enough home help hours, respite support, and limited access to the Fair Deal scheme mean that the responsibility of providing care is being passed to spouses and older relatives. Carers, in general, are without a doubt some of our country’s unsung heroes. They step in all too often when the State is unable to provide care and support. We have a responsibility to ensure that their needs are met and where possible, ensure that the State provides the services their loved ones need,” concluded Deputy Butler