Under pressure – The growing strain on cancer carers reveals that almost one in 10 cancer carers are “sandwich caring.” Most of them (89%) are also juggling a job as well as caring for someone with cancer. The report, based on research commissioned from You Gov, shows that the majority (70%) of all cancer carers are aged 45 or over. In 2011, over half (57%) were in this age group. The overall number of cancer carers has risen by nearly a third (31%) to almost 1.5 million in the last five years.
Macmillan warns of the debilitating effect caring for someone with cancer can have on a person’s life. Up to seven in 10 (70%) of all cancer carers experience mental health problems as a result of caring, including stress, anxiety and depression. Caring is also having a greater impact on the physical health of those who care such as exhaustion and insomnia. Additionally, almost one in three carers (30%) say their income or household finances are affected and four in 10 (43%) of those currently in employment report that caring affects their working lives.
While carers are carrying out more complex tasks and putting in more hours of care than ever before, worryingly more than half (55%) are not getting any additional support - a figure that has not improved from 2011. Many do not see themselves as carers or do not know what support is available. This means they can remain hidden from health and social care professionals who are unaware they are struggling.
Lynda Thomas, Chief Executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “It’s saddening to hear of the growing strain on cancer carers. In extreme cases a person may have to dress, feed and take their parent to the toilet whilst also dealing with the school run, and a full-time job. Too often, this “sandwich generation” of carers find themselves pulled in every direction by a physically and emotionally draining juggling act that can cause their finances to come under pressure, their working lives to suffer and their own health to bear the brunt.
“It’s not just “sandwich carers” that are facing this uphill battle. Carers across the UK, looking after their mothers, sisters, brothers or friends, are carrying out more caring tasks and for longer. Many are doing it with a real sense of pride and privilege but this doesn’t mean it isn’t difficult. For those of you caring for someone affected by cancer, we know it’s getting tougher. We also know you don’t always have the time, or energy, to seek help. We want to make it as easy as possible for you to get whatever support you need. From our information centres and mobile information bus, to our support line and online community, Macmillan is here for you."