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The health and wellbeing of former carers of older people

This paper will focus on the experiences of former carers; individuals who were previously unpaid carers of older people but for whom caregiving has ceased. Caring has been conceptualised as a ‘career’ that is characterised by key events, one of which is the end of caregiving and the transition into the post-caring period. Few temporal models of care include the post-caring period, yet this stage is an integral part of former carers’ experiences. It is estimated that approximately 2 million people each year in the UK, become former carers. Thus the number of formers carers is steadily increasing. There is however, a paucity of literature on how former carers navigate this stage and how the legacy of caregiving shapes their sense of wellbeing in the post-caring period. Drawing on data from a mixed methods study, the paper explores the transition made by former carers’ and their perspectives on personal wellbeing. Data was gathered by means of in-depth unstructured interviews with former carers of working age. Data analysis was guided by the principles of ground theory. The iterative approach of constantly comparing data enabled the emergence and identification of common themes and core categories. Findings suggest that former carers find it difficult to negotiate the transition into the post-caring period. They struggle with the psychological and emotional aspects of transition. Adaptation to a non-caregiving life can be a lengthy isolating experience that negatively impacts on health and wellbeing.

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44th BSG Conference, Ageing in Changing Times; Challenges and future prospects
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