One in five older people lack the confidence to form new relationships, research has claimed.
According to a new report from charity Relate, 83 per cent of people over 50 believe relationships are the most important element of a happy retirement, but almost four million also say they lack the confidence to form new friendships.
The charity insists that: “…with the right support, relationships can play a key role in preventing many of the negative issues and realising some of the benefits that come with later life.”
The report considers the so-called ‘baby boomer generation’ – people born between 1946 and 1964:
“As well as redefining society, this is a generation that has redefined relationships. The baby boomers married young and in great numbers, but they were also far more likely to divorce than their parents. Alongside these rising divorce rates, the latter half of the twentieth century saw an increase in cohabitation and remarriage, and the formation of stepfamilies and extended families. In general, the couple and family relationships of baby boomers have been characterised by greater fluidity than those of their parents’ generation.”
Relate calls on the government to pay more attention to the importance of relationships in later life, including them, for example, in health assessments and ‘embedding’ relationship support in local services. The organisation would also like to see an innovation fund available for projects which help older people to build and strengthen their relationships.
Relate Chief Executive Ruth Sutherland said: “What this report shows us is that there are three pillars to a good later life – health, financial security and good personal relationships, and yet relationships are largely missing from the wider debate around our ageing society. We know from this report that good relationships have a direct impact on health and wellbeing, and that loneliness and isolation have negative impacts on both our health and wider society more generally.”
The report, entitled Who Will Love Me When I’m 64?, forms parts of the charity’s continuing campaign on the importance of relationships to older people.