Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, warned earlier this month that the "fabric of society" is under attack from the condition, with too many carers being forced out of work prematurely because employers and local communities offer them insufficient support.
"The fact that thousands of workers in this country are juggling caring responsibilities without support and understanding from their employers is frightening", said Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of Alzheimer's Society.
Economic impact of struggling with work and care
The research for Public Health England by the Centre for Economics and Business Research is the first to examine the economic impact of conditions such as Alzheimer's disease on business and employment practices across the country.
It shows that one in eight people are now looking after someone with dementia, with more than half attempting to "juggle" paid work with caring duties.
Official figures suggest that almost 700,000 people in England suffer from dementia - a figure which is forecast to double within 30 years, amid a rapidly-ageing population. One in three people over the age of 65 will develop dementia, with risks doubling every five years.
The research found:
- 550,000 individuals in England are now caring for someone with dementia
- Just over half such carers are also holding down paid jobs; on average carrying out 18 hours' caring duties on top of their employment
- 50,000 carers in England alone were forced to quit their jobs, as the dual burden became too great
- A further 66,000 made significant adjustments to their work - such as reduced hours - in order to care for their loved ones
- Every year, the hours lost to caring commitments equate to £1.6bn
Businesses doing more to support working carers
Health officials said the study found businesses from a range of sectors said they were keen to do more to support those with dementia, and their carers. However, few had yet introduced adjustments, such as flexible working hours, extended leave or access to counselling services.
- Carers spend 28 hours a week on average caring for someone with dementia
- Most (51%) are also working; these employed carers spend an average 18 hours a week caring on top of their jobs
- Over a quarter (27%) of businesses surveyed have employed someone who needed to make adjustments to their working patterns in order to care for someone living with dementia.
Becoming more 'dementia friendly'
Businesses are showing signs of a shift in willingness to make society more dementia friendly:
- Most businesses have already provided or would consider providing a range of support to carers of someone living with dementia. A total of 87% of business surveyed have or would consider letting carers work flexible hours
- More than half of businesses would consider providing a range of support to dementia carers such as flexible working hours (63%), extended leave (61%), working from different locations (53%) and counselling and support (51%)
- Around 18% would consider paying for respite care.
So how can My Family Care help?
There are three key areas that need to be addressed to successfully support and help working carers.
The company culture needs to reflect and acknowledge the challenges and needs of working carers. And they will need both practical and emotional support.
The services that My Family Care offer provide both the practical and emotional help, and we can work with you to advise on and support best practice within your company culture.
We will help you identify which services, or blend of services, would suit your needs and those of your employees best.