A carer is someone who provides unpaid assistance for a family member or friend who has a chronic disease or disability. The caring role can include providing physical care, such as dressing or showering, as well as emotional, social, and financial support. In Australia, there are approximately 2.7 million carers, accounting for 12% of the population. Of all carers, 7 out of 10 are women. (Carers Australia, 2021).
Carers are a significantly disadvantaged group within the community. Caring can increase financial burden, restrict the carers access to education and/or employment, reduce leisure time, and limit participation in social and community life.
Carers are at increased risk of poor health and wellbeing. The caring role can lead to psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, and psychological distress. Caring can also cause physical health problems, such as high blood sugar levels, high cortisol levels (stress hormone) and impaired immune function. More recently, studies have shown caring is linked to cardiovascular disease.
Understanding the impact of caring is important when developing interventions and treatments. If you are are carer, visit carer gateway to see the range of services available to you.
“When my child got really sick, I had to stay home and care for him full-time. There were times I couldn’t afford to buy food, or even medications” – Anonymous
“Caring affects every aspect of your life. The constant worry occupies most of your thoughts during the day. It impacts work, relationships, finances. On top of all of that, we also have to watch our loved one deteriorate”. – Anonymous