Sandwich carers at greater risk of mental ill health

Figures show mental health problems are more likely for people who face dual care responsibilities of looking after children and elderly relatives.

Mental Health

 

People who care for both sick, disabled or older relatives and dependent children are more likely to report symptoms of mental ill-health, feel less satisfied with life and struggle financially compared with the general population, according to 2019 figures from the Office for National Statistics.

It says almost 27% of so-called sandwich carers show symptoms of mental ill-health while caring for both sick, disabled or older relatives and children as against 22% of the general population.

Adult care

The ONS says around 3% of the UK general population, equivalent to more than 1.3 million people, now have double caring duties with women accounting for 68% of those providing at least 20 hours of adult care per week.

It says prevalence of mental ill-health increases with the amount of care given.

More than 33% of sandwich carers providing at least 20 hours of adult care per week report symptoms of mental ill-health, compared with 23% of those providing fewer than five hours each week. However, those who provide fewer than five hours of adult care have higher than average levels of life and health satisfaction.

Sandwich carers who spend more than five hours a week providing adult care report lower levels of life and health satisfaction than the general population. The ONS says those providing between 10 and 19 hours of adult care per week are the least satisfied, even compared with those giving at least 20 hours each week.

It speculates that this could be because 69% of carers in the 10- to 19-hour category are in work (either employed or self-employed), compared with 41% of those providing at least 20 hours a week.

Leisure time

Leisure time is a big issue with 47% of those looking for a relative outside their home happy with the leisure time they have and 38% of those providing care within their own home. This compares with around 61% of the general population.

Around 41% of sandwich carers looking after a relative within their home say they’re unable to work at all or as much as they’d like. Women sandwich carers are more likely to feel restricted than men with around 46% of women feeling unable to work at all or as much as they’d like, compared with 35% of men.

Just over a quarter of sandwich carers who are women don’t work, compared with just 10% of men, although more than 59% of those providing care at home say this does not prevent paid employment.

One in three sandwich carers say they are “just about getting by” financially, while one in 10 are “finding it difficult” or “very difficult” to cope.



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