More than one in four unpaid carers could struggle to look after their elderly parent

Half of unpaid carers who look after an elderly parent are concerned about the emotional toll caregiving can take – and more than a quarter face a struggle to afford to care for them properly.

Many carers are going the extra mile as nearly six in 10 (57 per cent) make sure their loved ones aren’t overpaying for their bills.

While half (52 per cent) ensure gas and electricity readings are submitted correctly.

Efforts could affect their own job

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    It emerged a fifth are already thinking about how expensive it may get this winter – but 25 per cent are afraid their efforts could start affecting their own job.

    The poll of 1,000 unpaid carers, more than half of whom care for parents over 65, found the most common things people are doing to support are shopping, cooking and cleaning.

    While 57 per cent are also helping with their household finances as the cost-of-living rises.

    However, 66 per cent still fear their parents are ‘too proud’ to ask for the support they may need.

    Phillippa Brown from Smart Energy GB, which commissioned the research, said: “Doing small things now to help prepare for the future is vital, especially if you’re an unpaid carer.

    “And what this research shows is the amount of people who are going above and beyond to ensure their parents aren’t being left to cope with current issues alone.

    “For many families, every penny counts. So, making sure the energy bills of older or vulnerable people are accurate is important – and requesting a smart meter from their energy supplier is just one way to make a difference.”

    The survey also found 78 per cent of those who care for their parents are starting to prepare for winter already, with 67 per cent believing it is the hardest time of year for older people.

    And 87 per cent expect the increase in energy prices in October to make the colder months even more challenging.

    Getting ready for winter

    To get ready for winter, many are ensuring their loved ones have enough warm clothes, the heating is working properly and appliances are up to scratch.

    While over a third (34 per cent) are helping them use a smart meter to take control of their energy use, and 29 per cent plan to get them one installed by their energy supplier.

    It also emerged that, on average, the nation’s unpaid carers who are looking after a parent spend nearly 15 hours each week doing so.

    And a third admit they worry about their parents being cold in the winter as a result of rising energy prices, the survey conducted via OnePoll found.

    But seven in 10 revealed their parents would not have expected their children to have to provide care for them in later life when they were younger.

    Phillippa Brown added: “Arranging for someone you look after to have a smart meter installed by their energy supplier will help them and you prepare for future increases in energy prices, as you’ll both be able to keep track of what they’re spending.

    “What’s more, simple draught proofing around windows and doors will also increase the efficiency of a home's heating system and could help your money go further when things get colder.

    “A smart meter's in-home display will show you in near-real time how much energy is being used, so you can make small changes like this for those you look after to help better manage their household finances.”