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Research highlights the challenges for unpaid carers aged 65 and above across Scotland

Carers Trust Scotland today is releasing research about the lived experiences of older adult unpaid carers in Scotland. Over 450 participants shared their experiences and the unique challenges they face as an unpaid carer.

The impact of caring unpaid on one’s health and wellbeing was highlighted in the report, with 80% of participants stating that their physical health, and 87% of respondents stating their mental health and wellbeing, had been affected by their caring role. 65% of respondents said that they experience feelings of loneliness some of the time, and a further 19% said they often felt lonely.

“My health is deteriorating quite rapidly and I am afraid as to what may happen to loved ones should I die.”

The report also explores the support available for older adult unpaid carers. 18% of respondents feel as though they have no time for themselves. Furthermore, a quarter of respondents (25%) reported having difficulty being able to find the support they need as an unpaid carer. By not having the adequate support in place to support their caring role, it prevents many from being able to have break. Our research found that in the past 12 months, 18% reported that they had tried to take a break but had not been able to.  

As well as an impact on health, many older adult unpaid carers experience financial difficulty, with 82% of respondents feeling as though their caring role has financially impacted them. Challenges in retaining employment and developing a career alongside a caring role were highlighted by unpaid carers. Also, older adult unpaid carers with an underlying entitlement to Carer’s Allowance but no longer in receipt of the benefit due to receiving a full State Pension expressed their anger and frustration, with many feeling they are financially penalised due to their age whilst maintaining a substantial caring role.

“Not getting Carer’s Allowance is shocking. I care 24/7 non-stop. I would get State Pension anyway caring or not. Pension is not a benefit. When one needs the funds for caring, it stops. State Pension is there for me, not to supplement the caring role. I have not had Carer’s Allowance in 15 years.”

The report also explores the impact of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, with many older adult unpaid carers sharing ways in which they have tried to save money over the past 12 months.

  • 37% have used less gas/electricity in their homes.
  • 5% have cut back on essentials.
  • 9% have skipped meals, and 16% have used a food bank.
  • 27% have used their pension pot for everyday expenses.

In addition to publishing the lived experiences of older adult unpaid carers in Scotland, the research report also puts forward recommendations for support for unpaid carers and carer services and staff. Among its recommendations, Carers Trust Scotland is calling for:

  • Scottish Government extend Carer Support Payment to older adult unpaid carers with underlying entitlement who are receiving State Pension.
  • Health and Social Care Partnerships and local authorities provide ringfenced funding to local carer organisations dedicated to providing physical and mental health support for older adult unpaid carers. Additionally, develop specific programmes aimed at combatting social isolation and loneliness amongst older adult unpaid carers.
  • Scottish Government creates a dedicated section in the Older Adult Framework on older adult unpaid carers.
  • Scottish Government ensures there is a dedicated section on unpaid carers in the upcoming Dementia Strategy, with particular focus on where to turn to for support.

Jim Guyan, an unpaid carer from Shetland, comments:

“This report highlights the continuing lack of recognition and support given to elderly unpaid carers by the establishment.  It also makes recommendations that require action immediately.”

Becky Duff, Director of Carers Trust Scotland, comments:

“The changes in demographic trends in Scotland has seen our population begin to age over recent decades. It is therefore vital that we understand the challenges facing unpaid carers aged 65 and above which will be key in helping us support them.

The research report highlights that older adult unpaid carers across Scotland experience numerous impacts to their everyday lives, including in health, finances and support in their caring role. Many older unpaid carers have also faced challenges with employment, whether that is throughout their career and not having the same opportunities as those who don’t have caring roles, or in having to give up employment early due to their caring role.

We are pleased to publish this report and believe every effort should be made to support the implementation of the report’s recommendations, which we believe will support older adult unpaid carers across Scotland.”



An embargoed copy of ‘Experiences of Older Adult Unpaid Carers in Scotland’, Carers Trust Scotland’s full report on the survey findings, is available on request.

For further information, and to arrange interviews with Carers Trust spokespeople and unpaid carer case studies, please contact:

Beth Friel, efriel@carers.org and 07791 231090

Paul Traynor, ptraynor@carers.org and 07824 524964


About Carers Trust

Carers Trust is the UK charity working to transform the lives of unpaid carers across the UK. It partners with its network of local carer organisations to provide funding and support, deliver innovative and evidence-based programmes and raise awareness and influence policy. Carer’s Trust’s vision is that unpaid carers are heard and valued, with access to support, advice and resources to enable them to live fulfilled lives.

Carers Trust hosts the Young Carers Alliance, a network of over 150 organisations and 300 individuals committed to improving the identification and support for young carers and young adult carers. Carers Trust also hosts the Scottish Young Carers Services Alliance, an informal network of young carers services across Scotland. It has 51 members who provide support to young carers.


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