Older couples 'need more relationship guidance'
Published on 27 June 2013 11:30 AM
A 'minister for ageing' and GP-prescribed relationship support and counselling have been suggested as ways of helping people cope better with older age.
The call comes in a new report, jointly published by the Relate charity and New Philanthropy Capital, entitled Who Will Love Me When I'm 64?.
It says good-quality relationships are key to success and well-being in older age, but they can fracture if they are not nurtured.
Over 8 in 10 of the 1,000 over-50s polled by Relate believing that relationships are the most important requirement for a successful retirement.
But 1 in 5, which equates to around 4 million people if spread over the whole UK, lacked the confidence to build new relationships, the survey found.
More older couples are getting divorced
There are changes in the nature of relationships of older couples nowadays compared with previous generations, the report suggests.
It says that divorces rates of people over 60 rose between 1991 and 2011, while those of younger couples dropped.
There has been much discussion about 'silver divorce'. But the report said it is unclear if those divorcing tend to be the recently married, or if long-term partnerships are breaking down.
It noted that baby boomers, defined as those born between 1946 and 1964 had 'married young and in great numbers'.
But 'they were far more likely to divorce than their parents', the report said.
The research went on: 'Alongside these rising divorce rates, the latter half of the 20th century saw an increase in cohabitation and remarriage, and the formation of stepfamilies and extended families.'
Baby boomers' families characterised by 'greater fluidity'
It said that overall the family relationships of baby boomers have been characterised by 'greater fluidity' than those of their parents' generation.
Relate chief executive Ruth Sutherland said: '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 said studies suggest there are three cornerstones to a good later life: health, financial security and good personal relationships.
But she said that relationships are mostly missing from the wider debate about an ageing society.
Copyright Press Association 2013