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News of a hidden army of carers in their 80’s, many of them caring for someone with dementia has highlighted the need for awareness and support during national Dementia Awareness Week.

800,000 people are living with dementia here in the UK and 670,00 unpaid carers are helping to look after them. Here in Wiltshire 14% of carers supported by Carer Support Wiltshire care for someone with dementia.

The experiences of someone living with dementia are very individual and personal and Carer Support Wiltshire support workers work with each carer to find out what help and support is needed. This might be training, peer or professional support, emergency plans or small breaks run by ourselves or other organisations.

Chief Executive of Carer Support Wiltshire, Catharine Hurford comments:

“We also work to influence services to be more aware of the carer and help them in this very hard role; carers are a key partner for health and social care services and they can easily become overwhelmed. One key initiative which I am delighted to celebrate is that of John’s Campaign which we have championed in the main hospitals serving Wiltshire. As a result these hospitals now increasingly welcome the carer to visit and stay at any time to support their loved one during a hospital admission.”

The number of people in their 80s or older who are relied on as carers has rocketed in the last seven years, according to Age UK.

One in seven of the “oldest old” – an estimated 417,000 people in all – now provides some sort of unpaid care to family or friends. Over half of these clock up more than 35 hours a week. Many are exhausted and say they worry about how long they might be able to carry on, says the charity.

The findings come from a yearly representative household survey of 15,000 people aged 60 and older. The results were multiplied to give an estimate for the whole of the UK.