Caring for elderly dependants adds to pressure on those still working

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Barbara Lightburn, from Harrogate, has relied on her daughter – who works full-time as a community nurse manager – to cook her dinner since she was diagnosed with dementia 18 months ago.

The 88-year-old great-grandmother has lived alone since her husband, Joe, died 15 years ago and she depends on visits from here family and a team of carers from Age UK to ensure she eats, has baths and gets to bed.

As Mrs Lightburn does not qualify for council care, it is a battle for her daughter – a mother and grandmother herself – to get the help she needs.

“She used to get a visit from North Yorkshire council at lunchtime,” said Mrs Lightburn’s daughter Ann Cobb. “That’s been stopped because she doesn’t fit into their category any more – she is continent at the moment, for example. But because of her dementia she might not eat her lunch and it might still be there by the time I come by at tea time.”

Mrs Lightburn receives a full state pension and has so far been able to pay for care from her income. After cuts to Age UK Knaresborough’s funding, however, the charity’s charges have increased and the family has had to cut her weekly visits to the charity’s lunchclub. She now goes fortnightly.

Mrs Cobb, 60, said: “I’m working full-time and I can’t do it all. People don’t realise the impact it has. I want her to have the best care but it comes at a cost. I come in every day to do her tea but without me being that one person who’s there for her then what would happen to her?”