New figures that have been released by Age UK showing that among the oldest people in society there is an army of carers who, by looking after their partners or mentally or physically disabled family members without any additional payment, are saving the health and care system up to £5.9bn per year.
The number of carers aged over 80 has increased by nearly 39% in the last seven years to 417,000, and over half of these are caring for more than 35 hours a week. Meanwhile, the number of carers aged over 65 has risen to over two million. Most of these older carers are looking after a partner in the attempt to maintain their quality of life living at home together. They are the retired who are living off their pensions or off personal lifetime savings. Most of them do it because they want to, but they also say that there is little alternative.
As the older population grows, it is time that these home-based carers are supported by the government for the service they provide to society. It is estimated that by 2030 there will be over 760,000 carers over the age of 80.
Technological innovations can be helpful to both the elderly living on their own and to those caring for a partner or family member. Stair lifts are one example of mechanical support that allow the less mobile to access the upper floor of their house. Pendant alarms for the elderly ensure that they have a regular and reliable backup service in the case of minor or major emergencies. A careline in the UK is also immensely important so that assistance can be given 24/7 at the end of a phone line. A personal alarm for the elderly, such as Aster Telecare, is a good safety system for people at risk of falling, those living alone or in need of reassurance and those returning home from hospital or suffering from limited mobility. A personal alarm for the elderly can be fitted to the wall in an easily accessible position or worn as pendant alarms so that they are with the carer or elderly person at all times and give them instant access to a friendly, professional team. The alarm simply plugs into the phone line and electricity supply. A keysafe can also be provided so that emergency services are able to enter the house in cases where the homeowner is unable to open the door. This backup allows the elderly to live an independent life at home well into old age, and knowing that someone is always within reach gives added confidence to those living alone.