A quarter of the population is involved in providing some form of care for older family or friends, it finds.
And almost one in five of them regularly spend at least £100 a month.
The figures emerge from a report detailing how a “secret generation” of carers is helping prop up Britain’s crumbling social care system.
Of more than 2,000 people polled for the study, 24 per cent said they regularly care for an older relative or friend.
For some it involved short visits amounting to less than an hour a week but for more than one in 10 of those polled – the equivalent of more than six million people – said it equates to a commitment of up to seven hours a week.
A similar proportion estimated that they drive more than 100 miles a month to meet care commitments.
And for a significant minority it was much more, with the equivalent of almost two million people committing than 21 hours to care.
The research also found that, contrary to the image of the dutiful daughter, men are as prepared as women to care for loved-ones.
Some 54 per cent of men polled said they expecting to have to look after an elderly relative or friend compared with 55 per cent of women.
Young people were also increasingly aware of the need to provide care for the elderly with 84 per cent of 18 to 24-year-old polled expecting to be involved at some point – slightly higher than the figure for those aged 25 to 34, which was 82 per cent.
The study was carried out by the pollsters YouGov on behalf of Myconcierge Living Assistance, a private care provider.
Paul Richards, the company’s chief operating officer, said: “These findings paint a frightening picture that our elderly are slipping through the social care net with many families making massive financial and emotional sacrifices to look after loved ones.
“With many feeling the pinch in these economic times carrying this additional financial burden has a major impact on their lives too."
Sourced from the Telegraph, 7th May 2012.