Distress high among carers of the elderly

Embargoed until: Publicly released:

An estimated 480,000 New Zealanders provide regular care for someone who is sick or disabled, and a new study suggests these carers have high levels of distress - including depression and anxiety. As these informal care roles are often unpaid and provided by friends and family, the researchers say their interviews with carers show many fill the role out of love. But more support is needed if if the health system is to continue relying on unpaid carers, the researchers say.

Journal/conference: New Zealand Medical Journal

Organisation/s: University of Otago

Media Release

From: New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA)

Key points

Our health system relies on unpaid family members to take care of the elderly, unwell and disabled.

A survey found that these carers have elevated rates of depression and anxiety.

More emotional support is needed for carers.


For most elderly people in New Zealand, care is provided by a family member. These carers, who are unpaid, can find the job tough. As well as economic costs they have high rates of anxiety and depression. We also found caring restricted their personal and social lives and compromised their physical and emotional health. Most people in the survey said the reason they cared for their relative was love. The health system needs to offer more support for these people to continue this extremely valuable service.

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