In this guide, we’ve rounded up some of the top means of support available to dementia carers in the UK, so you can get the vital support that you need.
In England, there are currently an estimated 540,000 carers of people with dementia. Dementia is currently the leading cause of death in the UK, and as the population continues to age, it is a challenge we all face.
Despite there being hundreds of thousands of people in the same position, being a carer of someone with dementia can be an incredibly stressful, lonely, and difficult time. Many carers reduce their working hours or stop working altogether, and can feel isolated in their struggles – both emotionally and financially.
Dementia carers often find themselves in a position where they must reduce their working hours in order to be available to care for a family member or friend. This, of course, leads to a loss of income which for many, can make it extremely difficult to live.
There are a number of financial support systems available to unpaid carers – which we’ve covered below.
Benefits for Carers
If you are an unpaid dementia carer you may be eligible for carer’s allowance, which is a benefit of up to £69.70 (correct as of May 2022).
Other benefits you could be eligible for include:
- Universal credit
- Carer’s credit
- Jobseeker’s allowance
- Employment and support allowance
- ‘Carer addition’ in pension credit
- Additional housing benefit
Our full guide to carer’s allowance and what other benefits you could be entitled covers this topic completely.
If the person you care for is assessed by your local authority as having care and support needs, you will be able to request a personal budget in direct payments. These payments can be used to organise professional care.
If you are currently caring for someone with dementia and feel this could be a good route for you to take, contact your local authority about having a needs assessment carried out.
Many dementia carers experience a vast amount of stress, loneliness, and depression as a result of the role they are in. Do not hesitate to reach out to the professional support networks that are around you.
Register with your GP
Make sure you have registered as a carer with your GP. They will not only be able to recognize any effects caring is having on your health (such as high blood pressure, depression, anxiety), but can also take on the role as a signpost for other support and services you may be entitled to as a carer.
Apply for a carer’s assessment
A carer’s assessment is conducted by your local authority, and essentially takes a look at ways you can receive support to make your life easier. Carers assessments are free to anyone over 18, and may recommend things such as:
- Giving you advice about benefits you’re entitled to
- Training to support you in your role
- Help with day-to-day tasks you may be struggling with
- Things you can do to help your own well-being, such as taking necessary breaks
- Finding a local support group
If you are struggling within your role as a carer, a carer’s assessment can be a good place to start. It will identify where you are struggling, and ensure the relevant support is found for you.
To apply for a carer’s assessment, you’ll need to contact adult social services within your local council.
You may also want to consider a form of therapy to support you in your role, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
CBT focuses on helping you ‘deal with the here and now’, showing carers how to reduce any stressors associated with caregiving and helping you learn how to deal with negative behaviour patterns. If therapy sounds like something that could benefit you, it may be a good idea to chat to your GP.
Being a carer can be a very isolating experience. You may feel like you are losing your loved one that you are caring for, but that you are also the only person going through this experience. It can help just to know that you’re not alone.
Find a local support group
Did you know that there are local support groups for dementia and Alzheimer’s carers across the country? Alzheimer’s Society has an online directory you can use to find a group near you.
Consider doing some training
Dementia carer training will give you a great understanding of dementia, how to care for someone with symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s, and how to manage your own feelings and look after your well-being.
In addition to that, however, training can also provide you with opportunities to meet other carers going through the same thing you are.
If going to a support group or training in person isn’t possible for you, you can find support online through chat groups and forums. A few helpful online support groups carers may find useful include: