SDLP Highlight Strain On Elderly Carers

An SDLP MLA has highlighted the invaluable nature of people who care for the terminally ill, and called for greater recognition, support and resources, especially elderly members of the community.

Foyle MLA Mark Durkan met with Marie Curie NI this week to discuss the strain placed on older people caring for a loved one in Northern Ireland and highlighted the detrimental impact a job has on their physical and mental health.

He commented: "For any one taking on a carer's role is a huge commitment- it requires 24/7 work which can be physically and mentally exhausting. Unfortunately, due to an increasing ageing population, more and more older people are finding themselves caring for terminally ill loved ones."

The SDLP Health spokesperson emphasised the invaluable work carried out in the home, and said those who look after a friend or family member must not be "taken for granted".
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He continued: "After meeting with Marie Curie NI, I find it very worrying that many elderly carers are putting their own physical and mental health on the line- often pushing themselves to breaking point. Carers save the public purse an immeasurable amount of money but are often taken for granted- the reality remains that our health service could not cope without their vital contribution.

"They are an invaluable resource within our communities and that must be reflected in support services and resources. Coming to terms with a loved one’s terminal illness is a challenge in itself- leaving many people feeling isolated and depressed. We must remember that often older carers find themselves forced into a caring role perhaps with no prior experience; lacking information and details of available support or respite services.

"You can't pour from an empty cup, carers must look after themselves first and foremost. But in order to do this there must be a more concerted approach among agencies to ensure the needs of both carer and their loved ones, are being met.

"As a matter of urgency, we must increase investment in the care of carers; for respite services, access to practical help, financial support and in maintaining links with the community. We owe it to our older carers, to ease the burden of their situation in any way possible."


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