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Carers

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This chapter provides some detail on the extent to which people (aged 15 years and over) provide caring in Ireland (excluding professional activities), the hours they provide and to whom they provide the caring. The chapter concludes with an account of the self-reported health status of carers and we can see how this differs to the health experience of non-carers.

As will be seen, over 1-in-8 persons aged 15 years and over provide caring, with more of the age group 45-54 years providing care than any other age group. The vast majority of caring is provided to another family member, with females providing more care than men. In general, carers report a lower level of health status than non-carers but the differences are small for some of the areas examined. However, carers report a higher level of mental health issues than non-carers, with more of them suffering from some form of depression than non-carers. Some care should be taken in the interpretation of this data given the general quality considerations highlighted in the Introduction to the publication around how the data was collected.

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At State level, 13% of persons aged 15 years and over provide care (excluding professional activities) to another person at least once a week by virtue of that other person’s suffering from some age problem, chronic health condition or infirmity. The age group 45-54 years is the group which provides the most care, at a fifth (20%) of this age group, with the age group 25-34 years providing the least care (5%). For the age group 75 years and over, 9% of this group provide care to another person at least once a week. See Table 3.1 and Figure 3.1.

Show Table: Table 3.1 Persons aged 15 years and over by provision of care at least once a week, 2019

Age group15-2425-3435-4445-5455-6465-7475+
Provide care85112019169

In the main, the care provided is to another family member with the younger age groups more likely to be providing care to another family member. Carers in the 25-34 years cohort, provide 95% of their care to another family member, while 79% of the care provided by persons aged 75 years and over is provided to another family member. See Table 3.1.

More females (14%) than males (11%) are carers, and Unemployed persons provide more care to others than those In employment, with 17% of Unemployed persons compared to 11% of those In employment providing care. See Table 3.1.

In terms of relative affluence, all the relative affluence groups bar one report that 12% of them provide care to another person at least once a week by virtue of that other person’s  suffering from an age problem, chronic health condition or infirmity. Persons in the Very Disadvantaged group report that 15% of them provide care to another person at least once a week. See Table 3.1.

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At State level, of those who provide care, 31% of persons aged 15 years and over provide 20 or more hours of caring a week, with 37% of females providing this level of caring compared to 23% of men. Conversely, for men who provide care, 61% of them provide less than 10 hours a week, compared to 44% of females. See Table 3.2 and Figure 3.2.

Show Table: Table 3.2 Persons aged 15 years and over who provide care by number of hours they provide care or assistance per week, 2019

Less than 10 hours per weekAt least 10 but less than 20 hours per week20 hours or more per week
Male611623
Female441937

Over half (51%) of persons aged 75 years and over who provide care, provide 20 or more hours of it a week, with younger age groups more likely to be providing fewer hours. For example, for the age group 45-54 years who provide care, half of them (50%) provide it for less than 10 hours, while a third (33%) provide 20 or more hours of care to another person at least once a week by virtue of that other person’s suffering from an age problem, chronic health condition or infirmity. See Table 3.2.

When looking at the data by relative affluence, we can see that more affluent persons who provide care are more likely to be providing less than 10 hours a week when compared to more disadvantaged persons. For example, 60% of Very Affluent persons who provide care provide less than 10 hours a week, as opposed to 39% of Very Disadvantaged persons who provide care. Conversely, 36%, of Very Disadvantaged persons who provide care provide 20 or more hours a week, whereas 23% of Very Affluent persons who provide care provide this level of caring hours. See Table 3.2.

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In this section we analyse the self-reported health status of carers and non-carers, as report by them themselves.  In general, carers report a poorer level of health status than non-carers, although in some cases the differences are small. In terms of self-perceived health status, 82% of carers compared to 85% of non-carers report a Good or very good level of health status, with 15% of carers reporting their health status as Fair compared to 11% of non-carers. See Table 3.3.

As regards the prevalence of a long-standing condition, 30% of carers report having such a condition, compared to 25% of non-carers, and 21% of carers report some level of limitation as regards everyday activities due to a health problem compared to 18% of non-carers. See Table 3.3. 

For mental health, 19% of carers report some form of depression (with mild depression accounting for 13 percentage points of this), compared to 13% of non-carers (with mild depression accounting for 8% of this). See Table 3.3 and Figure 3.3.

Show Table: Table 3.3 Self-perceived health status of carers and non-carers, 2019

Mental health statusNone to minimal depressionMild depressionModerate depressionModerately severe or severe depression
Carers811342
Non-carers87832

Go to next chapter:  Personal Care and Activity Difficulties