by Ross Stebbing

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

  • Scots women shoulder burden of care for older relatives with more than a third saying it would be their sole responsibility to find a care home
  • Over 1-in-4 of Scots women say caring for a relative has led to a strain in their relationship
  • Sense of duty is delaying important decisions about care

Scots women are pushing themselves to breaking point by shouldering the burden of care for relatives because of feelings of ‘duty’ and ‘guilt’.

New research from Bupa shows that a ‘sense of duty’ is causing women to delay important decisions about care for older relatives, resulting in a knock-on effect on their relationships and even their own health.

With women usually taking on responsibility for care of older relatives, the research reveals that this is putting an increasing strain on their family. Half of women in Scotland (54%) would put off thinking about a care home as they feel it is ‘their duty’ to look after their family, yet more than one in four (28%) say that caring for relatives has led to a strain in their relationship.

It means that important care decisions are being left to the last minute and women in Scotland are pushing themselves to breaking point by shouldering the burden of care, with almost one in three (30%) saying that caring for relatives has impacted their own health.

More than a third (35%) of women say it would be their sole responsibility to find a care home for an elderly relative and nearly two thirds (64%) said they would feel guilty about moving a loved one into a care home).

Andrew Cannon, managing director of Bupa Care Services said:

We know women are usually the main carers in families and we regularly see daughters, wives and sisters in emotional turmoil because they know they need more support to look after a loved one but don’t know where to turn.

They have done a remarkable job in caring up to that point, but the stress has taken its toll on their wider lives. Often they turn for help only at a time of crisis.

That’s why it’s vital not to let a sense of duty get in the way of important decisions about care. Delays can be unhelpful for the older person being cared for, but it can also have an impact on health, family life and affect people’s wider relationships at work and home.”

Bupa is urging anyone who is looking after elderly relatives to seek advice and plan care options for older relatives before they reach breaking point. As well as a helpline that offers free advice about care options (0333 920 8317) Bupa is offering the following tips:

  • Try to develop a plan early on. Especially In the early stages following a particular diagnosis. While it’s hard to think beyond the immediate future and even though it may be difficult, try to engage with your loved ones in conversations before their condition deteriorates.

  • While you may feel it is your duty to take on the responsibility of caring for an older relative, sometimes their needs may be more complex and need professional trained support. Talk to someone, a trusted friend or advisor, to review what kind of care would be most appropriate for everyone involved.

  • It’s important to get a sense of the kind of environment your family members would be happiest and most comfortable in. Care homes offer a wide range of personalised care services, both long and short-term. This includes care for those with dementia, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, learning difficulties and the young and physically disabled.

  • The cost of care can be one of the deciding factors when choosing the right home, which is why it is helpful to know what funding options are available to you. Visit http://www.bupa.co.uk/care-services/care-journey-guide for more information.

Public rleations agency account executive Ross Stebbing

Private: Ross Stebbing

As part of the expert PR team at a fast-paced Scottish public relations agency, Ross Stebbing works on diverse clients in sectors including film and media, construction, healthcare and logistics. While he delivers PR in Edinburgh, his results appear in newspapers, magazines and websites all across the UK and beyond.

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