The Carers' National Association is seeking a change in the law to give Britain's 6.8 million carers of disabled and elderly relatives more recognition and practical support.

Violet Day, 67, cares for her husband, George, 69, who had a stroke seven years ago.

Hours: 24 a day.

Support: None from social services: "I don't ask." Regular help with shopping, trips out and jobs around the house from two daughters, one son and a brother.

Income: His disability benefits: about £153 weekly. Her retirement pension: £22.85 weekly. No carer's allowance - she is over retirement age.

Extra costs: Hard to quantify. Heating about £150 a quarter, cab fares £6 a week.

The job: "He is paralysed down one side and has poor vision in his left eye. I have to do almost everything for him - washing him, helping him dress, cutting up his food, getting him in the shower. He's 6ft 2in and about 11 stone - I'm 5ft 1in. He can't even make a cup of tea.

"He gets restless at night, so I don't get a lot of sleep. I have to be there all the time. He can't be left alone in case of a fall."

Pros: "I want to care, I wouldn't want it any other way. He'd do it for me if it was the other way round. I'm lucky I've still got him - lucky he survived."

Cons: "We are restricted. We don't have a car any more. We can't just go away for the weekend. I never go shopping.

"We were both looking forward to retirement, but it's changed all that."