IN YOUR 50s
More than three million people juggle care with work, but one in five carers are forced to give up their job due to the demands of caring. Most of them have the right to request flexible working hours to help them manage their caring role. Call Carers UK on 0808 808 7777 for advice or visit www.carersuk.org
If you are thinking of leaving work because of your caring role, consider how it could affect you. How will you manage with less money? Will leaving work affect your future pension entitlement? Consider instead taking a career break (paid or unpaid sabbatical), which would allow you to keep your options open and ensure you have a job to go back to should you want to. Check with your organisation’s employment policies or have a chat with your manager.
If you are combining work and caring, you may still be able to claim some benefits. There are strict eligibility rules, but Carer’s Allowance of £55.55 per week can be paid to working carers as long as you earn no more than £100 a week (after certain deductions). You may also be able to claim Working Tax Credit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax benefit. Check with your local Jobcentre or Benefits Office.
You may need support to find a different job if your caring role means you can’t work full time. Jobcentre Plus can help with courses and advice. If you want to combine work and caring, ask for a carer’s assessment. Social Services must take into account your need or desire to work as part of this assessment.
If you are claiming Income Support, you may qualify for the Carer Premium, an extra amount of up to £30 per week.
Call the Benefits enquiry line on 0800 882 200 or visit www.direct.gov.uk to claim online.
If you are not working, try to keep up your skills by taking a course especially designed for carers. Learning for Living offers City and Guilds courses for carers to complete at home. The National Extension College also offers courses for carers. To find out more, visit www.learning-for-living.co.uk or contact the National Extension College on 0800 389 2839 or visit www.nec.ac.uk
DID YOU KNOW?
Carers save the economy £119 billion annually
IN YOUR 60s
You may have to put your own retirement plans on hold as you face the extra demands of looking after parents in their 80s or 90s. Make sure they get all the help they deserve by contacting their local Social Services department (the number should be listed in a local directory).
Everyone needs a break. Try Vitalise holiday centres, where disabled people and their carers can enjoy time together (and with other people). Carers can relax because day-to-day caring duties are taken on by someone else. Call 0303 3030 145 or visit www.vitalise.org.uk or for more details. Tourism for All specialises in accessible accommodation and travel. For more details call 0845 124 9971 or visit www.tourismforall.org.uk
Caring can affect your State Pension. People receiving Carer’s Allowance are credited with National Insurance contributions. Check how caring will affect your pension by calling The Pension Service on 0800 99 1234 or visit www.direct.gov.uk
If you receive the State Pension, you can’t normally be paid Carer’s Allowance (we at Yours continue to campaign for a change in these rules!). If your pension is less than the Carer’s Allowance, your State Pension can be topped up to the level of Carer’s Allowance so it may still be worth making a claim. You may also get the Carer’s Premium as part of Pension Credit. Call the Benefits Enquiry Line (see advice for ‘In your 50s’) to check your eligibility.
Thousands of grandparents offer free childcare to help their own children survive in today’s tough economic climate. You may well find yourself caring for little ones while supporting elderly parents
as well. Do try to have some ‘me time’ in between all your caring roles. Learn to say ‘no’ sometimes!
You may find that your parents or partner need support to live as independently as possible. Each local authority sets its own eligibility criteria so ask it for advice.
Crossroads which provides carers for short breaks, usually weekly - has branches throughout the country offering support. Call 0845 450 0350 or visit www.crossroads.org.uk
DID YOU KNOW?
Every day another 6,000 people take on a caring responsibility Ð that’s more than two million people
IN YOUR 70s AND BEYOND
Even into your 70s and beyond, life may not be as tranquil for you as for many of your contemporaries. You could still be caring for a close relative - a parent, uncle or aunt in their late 80s, perhaps, or even an adult child. Be certain you get the assistance you require.
Make sure you let your local Social Services know that you’re a carer, so the organisation is aware of your needs in an emergency. Ask about an Emergency Carers’ Card you can carry in case you are taken ill or involved in an accident. Contact your local Age UK centre, where you’ll find support and details about specific groups for carers in your area. Many Age UK centres run day-care facilities for frail older people, giving the carer a break. Call 0800 00 99 66 or visit www.ageuk.org.uk to find out just what’s available.
There are 750,000 people with dementia in the UK and one in three people over the age of 65 will die with dementia. Caring for a loved one with dementia can be very stressful. If you are struggling to cope, call the Alzheimer’s Society helpline on 0845 300 0336 or visit www.alzheimers.org.uk
Moving can be a huge upheaval, but may make life easier. For details of 50,000 retirement and care homes in the UK - to buy or rent - call the free advice line on 0800 377 7070 or visit www.housingcare.org. For details about Retirement Villages which provide friendship, support and care if needed, call 0845 521 1857 or visit www.retirementvillages.co.uk
As you get older, you may need more help with domestic tasks, shopping, meals on wheels, maintenance jobs, transport, installing security equipment or just company. Call Age UK (see the number in the previous column). It also operates a HandyVan or HandyPerson service in some areas - designed to help carry out small home repairs or install safety equipment. Contact your local Age UK centre to find out what’s available.
Facing up to the fact that one partner needs to move into a care home can be very hard for all concerned. Care home fees are means tested and complex. However, if a relative or partner aged over 60 lives in your house, the value will be disregarded in means testing. Call First Stop Advice for older people on 0800 377 7070, or visit www.firststopcareadvice.org.uk for expert help about choosing a suitable home and for costs.
Life after caring can mean a big adjustment. Caring can end when a partner goes into residential care or when they die. Carers suddenly find themselves with a huge void in their lives. If you need counselling help after a bereavement, call Cruse Bereavement Care on 0844 477 9400 or visit www.crusebereavementcare.org.uk
DID YOU KNOW?
1.35 million people provide more than 50 hours of care a week
A helping hand via Yours
Caring takes its toll on carers whatever their age and it’s vital that you look after yourself! If you are not well enough to care, who will take over your role? It’s easy to wear yourself out with caring and to have very little time to yourself. Make sure you have a few minutes of ‘me time’ every day. By joining the Yours Carers in Touch scheme you’ll find friendship and support from carers who understand how you feel. If your caring role has ended or even if you haven’t been a carer and you are bereaved, join the Yours Bereavement Group. See my pages in the magazine with details about how to join - it could be the best decision you’ve ever made.