A new online poll for Age UK reveals that 62% of people aged 65 and over believe it's important to have a romantic partner as they grow older, with 1 in 8 (12%) actively seeking a new relationship.
But as well as an eye for romance, the survey shows the importance of enduring friendship. More than half (54%) of those polled say they have a best friend, with two thirds (66%) of these having been best friends for more than 20 years – bringing a literal meaning to the phrase ‘friends forever’. 83% of the people surveyed thought friendship becomes more important in later life
These results highlight the value of companionship – romantic or platonic – in later life. The top reasons those aged 65 and over surveyed gave for wanting to find love were:
- Wanting someone special to share life with
- Wanting someone who can mentally stimulate them
- Wanting friendly physical contact
- Wanting someone to ease feelings of loneliness
Dating in later life can be daunting
Despite a longing to build new relationships, over a third of those surveyed (35%) thought they were too old to join the dating game again, worrying about rejection and what other people will think. For nearly a quarter (23%), it was their children's reactions they were particularly concerned about.
Similarly, nearly half of those surveyed (48%) find it more difficult to make friends as the years pass.
The role of friends and family is vital in helping older people to find love and companionship in later years, with nearly half (48%) relying on those who know them best to set them up. The findings also showed that a brave minority of over-65s (17%) would try dating websites.
Relationship expert Donna Dawson commented: 'The need to love and be loved, whether by a friend or a partner, does not change as we grow older. What can change, however, is our attitude to ourselves and how we feel we ought to act.
'We need to remember we are the same person we always were, with our own needs and wants and it’s important we embrace opportunities such as taking up new hobbies or meeting others, in order to keep us stimulated and healthy, and to maintain our emotional wellbeing.'
Spread the Warmth - keeping older people well in winter
The poll has been commissioned to coincide with Age UK’s Spread the Warmth campaign, which aims to keep older people across the country warm and well in winter, preventing isolation and helping people in later life to meet new people and try new activities.
Commenting on the survey, Lucy Harmer, Head of Information and Advice at Age UK, said: 'Whatever life stage we’re at, how we spend our free time and who we spend it with can have a huge impact on happiness and wellbeing.
'We know there’s an appetite for making new friends and expanding social networks. A big part of Age UK’s Spread the Warmth campaign is bringing people together to tackle loneliness and isolation in later life by meeting new people with shared interests.
'Whether it’s cookery classes, Nordic walking, gardening or learning to get online, Age UK’s advice line and website offer information to help people keep fit and healthy and make the most of that all-important leisure time.'
For free, friendly, and impartial advice, contact Age UK Advice free on 0800 169 65 65.