The Importance of Lifelong Love
Published on 12 December 2012 12:30 AM
• Two thirds of over-65s polled think it's important to have a romantic companion*
• One in ten respondents aged 65 and over are currently seeking a new relationship
• 83% think friendship becomes more important in later life
• 66% have known their best friend for over 20 years
People aged 65+ have spoken out about the importance of different types of relationships as we grow older, highlighting the value of companionship - romantic or platonic - in later life. A new online poll* for Age UK reveals that one in eight (12%) people aged 65 and over is currently seeking a new relationship and 62% believe it is important to have a romantic partner as they grow older.
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'.
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.
Yet despite 59% considering romance to be as important as friendship, over a third (35%) think they are too old to join the dating game again, worrying about rejection and what other people will think.
Similarly, eight in 10 (83%) say the value they place on friendships increases with age but nearly half (48%) find it more difficult to make friends as the years pass.
The top reasons those in later life are keen to find love are:
1. Wanting someone special to share life with
2. Wanting someone who can mentally stimulate them
3. Wanting friendly physical contact
4. Wanting someone to ease feelings of loneliness
Despite a longing to build new relationships, many of those polled find the prospect of dating daunting, with nearly a quarter (23%) concerned about how their children will react.
However, the findings show that one in six (17%) over-65s would try dating websites. The role of friends and family is also 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.
Commenting on the survey, Lucy Harmer, Head of Information and Advice at Age UK, said: 'This research shows that love and friendship continue to play an important role in our lives at all ages. 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.'
Seeking expert advice on companionship
Age UK is working with relationship expert Donna Dawson to provide tips on getting to know people in later life. She said: '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.'
Where can people find out more information?
Age UK offers free, friendly, and impartial advice to people in later life, their friends, family and carers. Contact Age UK Advice free on 0800 169 65 65 or visit our website to find out more about maintaining an active social life through finding new hobbies, local social activities and volunteering.
Age UK is offering tips and advice on how to forge new relationships in later life -whether a friendship or romance.
Top tips on how to find love and friendship in later life
1. Be ready to embark on a new relationship. Give yourself time to process your feelings from a previous relationship before beginning a new one.
2. Take up a new hobby or sign up for local interest classes in your area. One in five over 65s met their new partner through a shared hobby.
3. Try online dating. There are a number of sites designed especially for the over-50s to help you meet new people.
4. Enjoy meeting new people! Don't put pressure on yourself to meet the right person immediately.
For further information, case studies and spokespeople, please contact Emma Russell (tel: 0207 009 3145) or Gillian Stark (tel: 0207 009 3151) at 3 Monkeys Communications or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Notes to editors
*A total of 2,000 UK adults over 65, and 2,000 UK adults under 50, were surveyed via an online poll. The research was carried out by Vision Critical in November 2012.
For media enquiries relating to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland please contact the appropriate national office: Age Scotland on 0131 668 8055, Age Cymru on 029 2043 1562 and Age NI on 028 9024 5729.
About ‘Spread the Warmth':
This winter as many as 25,000 older people could die needlessly because of the cold. That's around 200 preventable deaths a day. Age UK and its local and national partners are working to keep older people warm and well. We're providing social activities and contact for older people, as well as tips on combating the cold at home and outdoors. We're keeping people warm and safe at home, giving out hot nutritious meals and offering information and advice 365 days a year. We're also calling on the Government to boost the energy efficiency of older people's homes. Act now to Spread the Warmth and help hundreds of thousands of older people.
Older people and their families can call Age UK Advice for free on 0800 169 65 65, where they can also order a free copy of ‘Winter wrapped up' with a free thermometer. Alternatively they can visit www.spreadthewarmth.org.uk to download the guide, get more information about the Spread the Warmth campaign and find out where their local Age UK office or shop is. There are lots of ways to help Age UK Spread the Warmth this winter. People can make a donation simply by calling 0800 169 87 87 or visiting www.spreadthewarmth.org.uk.
About Age UK:
Age UK, the force dedicated to improving later life provides free information, advice and support to over six million people; commercial products and services to over one million customers; and research and campaign on the issues that matter to people in later life. Our work focuses on five key areas: money matters, health and wellbeing, home and care, work and training and leisure and lifestyle. We work with our national partners, Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI (together the Age UK Family), our local Age UK partners in England and local Age Concerns. We also work internationally for people in later life as a member of the DEC and with our sister charity Help Age International.
Age UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee and registered in England (registered charity number 1128267 and company number 6825798). Age Concern England and Help the Aged (both registered charities), and their trading and other associated companies merged on the 1st April 2009. Together they have formed the Age UK Group ("we"). Charitable services are offered through Age UK and commercial products are offered by the Charity's trading companies, which donate their net profits to Age UK (the Charity).
Age UK runs a comprehensive digital inclusion campaign involving the Internet Champion of the Year search, Itea and Biscuits Week and IT Volunteering. For more information please visit the Technology & internet page.