When I'm 64 - the importance of relationships and mental health in later life

When The Beatles coined the infamous phrase, ‘Will you still need me? Will you still feed me, when I’m 64?’ many of us sung along giving little thought to the reality of the situation, which according to a new report published by Relate charity is now being faced by many older people in the UK.1

Jointly published by Relate charity and the New Philanthropy Capital, the report 'Who will love me when I’m 64?’ looks at importance of good quality relationships later in life, and calls for government to appoint a Minister for Ageing Society to address the issues being faced by the UK’s ageing population.

The report also goes further, making recommendations for:

  • A new and comprehensive government strategy on ageing
  • Better support for older carers
  • The measurement of older people’s relationships
  • Embedding relationship support in the local service landscape
  • An innovation fund to target resources for local innovations
  • Increased recognition of good quality relationships.

This timely report also follows the publication of ‘Guidance for commissioners of older people’s mental health services’ by the Joint Commissioning Panel for Mental Health earlier in June. Significantly this publication (developed by older people’s mental health professionals, people with mental health problems, and carers) draws on key themes such as multidisciplinary approaches to care and the need for greater recognition of ‘functional illnesses such as depression and psychosis as well as dementia’.2

Starting at 55 year of age, (rather than The Beatles’ 64 years), professionals working with older people may be interested in the recently published Wellbeing Evaluation Scale (WES) - a brief, self report measure designed to measure wellbeing in older people, which reflects themes in both of the above reports by looking at the key areas of:

  • Integrity of self
  • Integrity of others
  • Belonging
  • Agency
  • Enrichment
  • Security.

Themes which were also discussed at the recent Faculty of the Psychology of Older People (FPOP) conference (referred to by the BPS here).

What is clear from both reports is that the topic of care and relationships in later life are now being drawn to the government’s attention. Let’s hope the answer to ‘Will you still need me…When I'm sixty-four?’ will be ‘forevermore’ on their agenda. 3

Related assessments:


Harries, Ellen and Casas, Lucy de Las (June 2013). Who will love me, when I’m 64? Retrieved 09 July 2013 from: http://www.relate.org.uk/userfiles/documents/WhowilllovemewhenIm64WEB.pdf

2. Joint Commissioning Panel for Mental Health (May 2013). Guidance for commissioners of older people’s mental health services. Retrieved 09 July 2013 from: http://www.jcpmh.info/wp-content/uploads/jcpmh-olderpeople-guide.pdf

Relate: the relationship people (2013). Press release: Relate calls for Minister for Ageing Society as four million people face a lonely old age. Retrieved 09 July 2013 from: http://www.relate.org.uk/press/72/index.html

1, 3. When I'm Sixty Four, (SGT Pepper). Writer: Lennon, John Winston and McCartney, Paul James. Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC. Retrieved 09 July 2013 from: http://www.thebeatles.com/#/songs/When_Im_Sixty_Four_Sgt_Pepper

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