UK adults are just as likely to care unpaid for a loved one as own their own home, a study suggests.
An analysis by the Universities of Sheffield and Birmingham found two thirds (65%) of adults have cared unpaid for a loved one. This is similar to estimates showing 64% of the population own their own home.
The research, commissioned by the charity Carers UK, also reveals the average person has a 50:50 chance of caring by the age of 50 – long before they reach retirement age.
On average, women can expect to take on caring responsibilities more than a decade earlier than men. Half of women will care by the age of 46, compared to half of men who can expect to care at 57.
This means that women are especially likely to care during their working life. The charity said this highlights the need for employers to support their employees to stay in work by adopting flexible working practices and a right of five to 10 days of paid care leave.
Helen Walker, chief executive of Carers UK, argued that the next government has to make sure the gender care gap is addressed.
“It must also prioritise sustainable, long term investment in our social care system so that millions of people caring for loved ones can stay in work and look after their own health,” she said.
Separate research by the charity of people caring more than 50 hours a week found almost half (49%) reported their finances had been negatively impacted, 52% had suffered poorer physical health and the vast majority (77%) were suffering from stress or anxiety as a result of missing out.