Adfam’s Older Carers group is funded by the City Bridge Trust of the City of London to address the isolation faced by older carers of those with drug or alcohol problems. Looking around this community room in central London at the assembled group, they could be here for any reason: five women of a similar age, some chatting quietly, others waiting cautiously for the meeting to begin.
The 2011 census showed a 35% surge since 2001 in the number of older carers, to nearly 1.3 million. Whilst we do not know exactly how many of them are caring for someone who uses drugs or alcohol, there is evidence that a minimum of 1.5 million people are affected by someone else’s drug use, and other studies suggest that this number may be up to 8 million. Whether caring for adult children with drug or alcohol dependency, or a partner who may also have dementia or another age-related health condition, there are certainly large numbers of those over 55 who are affected in this way.
Evidence suggests that those who are older often have high levels of need, but face a number of barriers when seeking support for themselves.
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