I recently attended an event all about financial wellbeing in later life. It was an event which highlighted the contribution over adults made to the UK economy – in fact the over 65s spend more than £100 billion a year.
Most of the research shared and discussed highlighted income, level of debt, spending etc. from the age of 50 upwards. It also looked at how financial security and personal circumstances contributed to personal wellbeing. To be honest, there were no surprises in the findings that those who were financially secure and had strong personal relationships and a good social circle were generally happy with their lot in life. There were some serious issues highlighted – such as the fact that most women are financially ill prepared for retirement – but I will cover that in a separate post!
Women seemed to feel unhappy in their relationships when they reached 65
However, there was one line, buried on the last line of one of the 59 slides which I did find interesting – both genders saw being in a relationship at 50 as a positive thing, but seems that although men at 65 still saw being part of a couple as positive, women at 65 started to feel negative about being part of a couple! So why, at 65, were women saying that they were now less happy being part of a couple? Unfortunately when asked by the member of the audience if this could be expanded upon, the researcher was unable to do so as he grasped for answers and came up with none.
Grumpy Old Men
All the women in the audience were amused – ‘grumpy old men’ was the phrase being bandied about. But were there other issues at play. Were women finding themselves increasingly taking on the role of carer, for both partner and parents? Were they perhaps soaring in their own lives while husbands and partners were looking for a quieter life at home?
I mentioned this to my own mother after the event. She immediately responded with ‘That’s an easy one to answer!’ According to my mother, from her own experience and that of her friends, she described the scenario of an army of women quite happily conducting their daily lives, managing their homes, perhaps working, meeting friends for lunch, seeing their own children and grandchildren until suddenly their husbands retire. They are home – they want to know what the plan for the day is. They want lunch made for them. Suddenly your time is no longer your own. You have to adjust. Add to that the fact that the men who have in all likelihood had their whole identity tied up with work, once that is gone they are having to find themselves and adjust to their new lives too.
So is this the reason why women at 65 in this particular study ( by the International Longevity Centre) suddenly seemed dissatisfied with their lot? Is it due to adjusting to the pressures of having a partner present 24/7 , or are there other aspects which contribute? I would love your thoughts and opinions on this one !!