People need to take steps to ensure they can remain independent for as long as possible as they grow older, according to Age UK in Derbyshire.
The charity said an increasingly ageing population meant society needed to find ways to reduce pressure on carers.
High numbers of pensioners in Derby and Chesterfield are caring for others, according to BBC-commissioned research.
The study, by Experian, looks at how parts of England will be affected by a society which is growing older.
According to the researchers, about 13% of pensioners in the Derby and Chesterfield areas provide unpaid care - the 11th and 12th highest out of 348 local authority areas.
Katy Pugh, the chief executive at Age UK Derby and Derbyshire, said many older people in the region were in poor health because of unemployment that followed the decline of heavy industries such as coal mining.
She said: "This tends to take a toll on people's health and well being. They're more likely to have smoked heavily, drunk more alcohol and taken less exercise.
"These are compounding problems which take a greater physical toll and affect health in old age."
But action taken in advance can help reduce the amount of care a person might need, according to the charity.
Ms Pugh said: "One solution is to try to keep as fit and well as possible. Another is to look at options to make sure you can care for yourself for longer.
"Some people are incapacitated by the property they're in - they need to get it adapted or move to a more suitable property.
"There are also those for whom independence means not asking for help, but that's just stubbornness. Make sure you know what help is available and use it. There's always an answer."