Almost seven out of ten carers over the age of 60 suffer "a devastating impact on their health" due to their caring role, a report claims.
Based on a survey of 639 carers aged 60-94, the report, Always on call, Always concerned by the Princess Royal Trust for Carers, found 65% of older carers have long-term health problems or a disability themselves.
Eight out of ten of those carers surveyed are 'majorly concerned' over what will happen to the person they are caring for in the future and only half feel safe or confident in lifting the person they care for.
A greater focus on helping older carers maintain their health is crucial, the charity claims.
"The survey clearly shows how carers can harm their own health when looking after others," said Liz Fenton, chief executive at The Princess Royal Trust for Carers.
"Many carers told us about being in severe pain, with crumbling spines, arthritis, back problems, cancer, kidney problems, depression and heart problems but struggling on in their caring role."
The Trust is calling for 'easily accessible, comparatively low-cost preventative services' at a local level to improve the lives of carers. It claims such changes will enable people to choose to be cared for longer at home and ultimately save public money.
Of the UK‟s approximately six million carers, the Princess Royal Trust for Carers estimates around half are aged over 50 and 1.5 million of these are carers over the age of 60.
"Access to good respite care is crucial and the ability to book this in advance. A named nurse/GP contact who regularly meets with the carer" - Lorna Docking, Edinburgh
"I have recently undertaken a project addressing the physical health and wellbeing of carers. After seeing almost 100 carers I believe that they need someone to listen to them, easier access and information about how to access local health promotion services and information and education about illness of the person they care for and how to manage their own health problems. Carers are often overwhelmed by the enormity of the caring role and become isolated. This has a significant effect on their own mental health as well as physical health" - Cheryll, North west
"Start a club for old carers, so that they can meet up or have video Skype conference to discuss their experience, problems, worries to support each other morally. Older carers one day too need to be cared for" - Jessie Wilson, Exeter