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'Isolation and even more demands on me'

Unpaid carers reveal their worries about Christmas and the festive period.

Carers Trust recently asked unpaid carers a range of online questions about how they were feeling in the run up to Christmas and the festive period.

The results make for sobering reading. They are also a reminder that, while for so many of us Christmas is a time to relax and indulge ourselves, the festive period can be a source of stress and anxiety for many unpaid carers.

Many of the responses we received talked about Christmas heightening a sense of isolation from wider families and friends because of the continuing need to provide round-the-clock care for a loved one at home.

Inability to access support over the holiday period is another major source of anxiety for unpaid carers.

We received over 1,500 responses to our questions. 56% of respondents said they were ‘worried’ about Christmas. When we asked what specifically was causing them anxiety:

  • 41% said they were worried about financial pressures.
  • 41% said they were worried they would have to do even more caring over the Christmas period.
  • 35% said they were worried about feeling lonely and isolated over Christmas.
  • And 14% said they were worried they would not be able to access support services over Christmas.

In open text responses, unpaid carers told us in their own words about their concerns. Here are just a few of the hundreds of responses we received:

“At Christmas and New Year all of my son’s support stops and therefore I have no option but to take Annual Leave. This is a difficult time for my son as he does not cope with change. I dread this time of year as my son’s needs become more difficult to manage on my own. I am still working around my son’s needs and he is nearly 30 years old.”

“Just the dread. The dread of the season, knowing it heightens the feeling of isolation and difference. It’s keeping spirits up, keeping hopelessness or exhaustion at bay, and not letting it affect those you care for.”

“I’m a lone parent carer to two boys on autistic spectrum. Christmas means no help, complete isolation and even more demands on me.”

Christmas can also be a very challenging time of year for young carers. Because of their caring role, all too often they have to miss out on Christmas parties and days out with their friends. And before any presents can be opened, young carers often have to complete a long list of caring duties. For some, Christmas Day can feel much like any other.

We know that support for unpaid carers is just as important at Christmas as any other time of year. So if you are an unpaid carer, and you are finding it difficult to cope this Christmas, or at any time of year, please visit our Coping at Christmas page that has lots of tips and advice on how to manage your anxieties at this time of year.

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