Relate, the UK’s leading relationship support organisation, recently published an interesting report calling for a Minister for Ageing Society. The report, ‘Who will love me when I’m 64?’ examines the importance of good quality relationships in later life, but finds that not enough is being done to support older people to strengthen their relationships.
Research conducted earlier this year by Relate and Ipsos MORI found that while 83% of over 50s believe relationships are the most important thing for a happy retirement, one in five, or almost four million older people, lacks the confidence to form new friendships and relationships.
The report, published with New Philanthropy Capital, finds that there is currently no coherent government strategy for coping with our increasingly ageing population, but 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 also recommends:
- A new and comprehensive government strategy on ageing, which will work across government departments;
- Better support for older carers to enable them to care for their partners at home if they wish, and to maintain a healthy relationship;
- The measurement of older people’s relationships as part of the work of Directors of Public Health;
- Embedding relationship support in the local service landscape so that older people are offered support early existing touch points within public services;
- An innovation fund to target resources for local innovations that look to develop and strengthen existing relationships for older people; and
- Older people themselves should recognise the importance of building and maintaining a robust network of good quality relationships.
“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,” said Relate’s Chief Executive, Ruth Sutherland.
“With one in five older people lacking the confidence to form new friendships and relationships, we are looking at a future in which four million people could be facing loneliness and isolation. Without a Minister of State for Ageing Society, we will not see a coherent strategy which ensures that we don’t drift into an old age that we don’t want,” she warned.
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