The physical and psychological strain of caring seems to have left its impact on the six million care givers in Britain with 79% of them claiming to have worsened health because of caring .
The survey revealed that only 27% of them had been offered a health check by their GP while 90% of them considered that they should be offered an annual health check. 73% of these care givers have claimed that their own health problems affected their ability to care. Besides that 59% said their health problems were affecting the person they cared for.
Some of the common complaints were stress and worry,depression, all mostly stemming from the emotional impact of caring while the physical toll fo caring was often expressed as backache in most care givers.
Every health authority in the UK has been urged in the report 'In Sickness and in Health', that launch Carers Week, to offer health checks for care givers within a year of their appointment as carers, as well as regularly afterwards.
The campaign has been backed by a host of celebrities such as Gloria Hunniford, Esther Rantzen, Fiona Phillips and Miriam Margoyles. Carers Week manager Paul Matz said: "Carers are often so focused on the person they care for that they neglect concerns for themselves, and as a result, their own health can be significantly affected. Carers Week seeks to address these issues by raising awareness of their situation among key decision makers and the public at large."
The survey was conducted on 5,604 carers It was found that the psychological impact of caring mainly affected careres aged between 18-34 years the hardest often leading to depression, anxiety isolation and a smaller circle of friends.
While the oldest carers aged 65 and over often received support from their GPs only 43% of these people had been offered a health check.
Mr Matz said: "Although we have always been aware of the negative impact caring can have on the lives of many carers, this survey has highlighted just how wide-spread the situation is where health is concerned.
"Carers themselves need to understand these issues and make the most of the services that are available to them, in order to ensure they can carry out their roles without creating long-term health problems for themselves."
Mr Matz added: "Carers Week 2006 will be stressing the importance of carers health and emotional well-being. Improving healthcare provision for the UK's six million carers makes sense not just for carers, but also for every single person who is supported as a result."
The survey revealed that 40% of the careers are caring for a partner, 32% for a daughter or son 21% for a parent, 5% care for some other relative and 1.7% for a friend.
Gloria Hunniford, who cared for daughter Caron Keating before her tragic death from cancer, added: "The role of carers should never be underestimated. Carers take on so much responsibility, worry and stress.
"They are often so concerned about the welfare of the person they are looking after, that they completely neglect their own well being. I hope my support will help raise awareness of the issues facing carers in the UK today and encourage more to seek help."
The twelfth annual Carers Week has been supported as well as jointly organised by Carers UK, Help the Aged, Crossroads Caring for Carers, Macmillan Cancer Support, MS, Counsel and Care, The Princess Royal Trust for Carers,Society, Rethink.
A website www.carersweek.org has been set up providing details of the Carers Week and the events organized for the week. The Princess Royal Trust for Carers.