More than 15,000 pensioners in Northern Ireland aged 70 and over are providing a minimum of 35 hours unpaid care every week.
The shocking new statistics were revealed as North Antrim DUP MLA Mervyn Storey attended the launch of an information booklet for carers.
The event was hosted by the Northern Trust and Carers NI to mark Carers Rights Day.
Commenting after speaking at the event in Ballymena, Mervyn Storey said: “I was pleased to be asked to take part in today’s launch of ‘A Carers Guide’ and also Carers UK latest research ‘Missing Out.’”
He added: “The recent figures show pensioners are working the equivalent of a full-time job. Over 400 of them are 90 years of age or older.
“Research for Carers UK estimates there are now more than 220,000 carers in Northern Ireland – a 20 per cent increase since 2001 and some 47,000 of those carers are in the Northern Trust area.
“The charity places their annual economic contribution at £4.6billion – similar to the entire 2016/17 Stormont health budget.”
Evelyn Hoy, Chief Executive of the Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, added: “Government and society is dependent on older carers - they save the health service millions of pounds every year by providing care and support to older relatives and friends.
“They play a vital role providing regular and substantial care, supporting loved ones to live dignified lives whilst remaining at home. Yet many carers go without much needed support and respite which could help them in their caring role.
“That is why I was pleased to be part of today’s event and listen to those carers present. I have been working with Carers NI on a number of issues and will continue to raise the concerns of those who do an invaluable job for their family and for our community.”