A carer is someone who provides unpaid care to a family member or friend, who could not manage without this extra help and support. There is no typical carer, they come from all walks of life and represent people of every age group, from the very young to the very old.
According to a 2012 survey, 275,000 people in Ireland class themselves as family carers. 61% of these carers spend over 100 hours a week caring, while 72% say their health has suffered as a result. Undoubtedly, there are many more people who are in a caring role, who do not officially class themselves as family carers, or even recognise that they are carers!
The care provided may include assistance with personal care, administering medication, household duties, errands, or simply providing companionship.
People rarely choose to become carers, it just happens, and it is usually a case of trying to cope and figure it out, as time goes by and you gain more experience. The care may be provided for a couple of hours a week or 24 hours a day, and may continue for days, weeks or many years.