The role of looking after a friend or relative is causing health problems among half of carers, a report has claimed.
According to a study conducted by the NHS Information Centre, stress affects a third of carers, while a quarter suffer from interrupted sleep or are struggling to sleep.
Out of the 2,400 carers in England who were questioned, one in three said they felt tired after looking after a friend or relative, and over one in five said they were short-tempered or irritable.
The study also shows that caring has a negative effect on relationships, social life and leisure time for 40% of respondents. Almost a third of these said they were too tired to go out, and one in four said they were unable to take a holiday.
Some 60% of people said they thought the amount of time they spent caring for a friend or relative would rise over the next five years.
And while four out of five people surveyed said their quality of life was good, this fell among those spending 20 hours or more caring and those who looked after someone at home.
Just over a quarter of carers of working age said their role negatively affected their employment chances and less than 20% were aware they could request flexible working hours.
Just 11% said they get the carer’s allowance, a maximum of £53.90 per week, which is only for people caring for 35 or more hours per week. Of these, the percentage receiving the allowance rises to just under a quarter.
Around one in four said they had cared for the same person for at least a decade, while just under 10% had been caring for more than 20 years.
There are an estimated five million carers in England.