Pensioners want to be more socially active

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A third of people aged over 65 in Milton Keynes would like to be more socially active.

The Technology Strategy Board has released a ‘Social Index’ of the UK, in terms of age and area, based on how socially active respondents of a poll report their lives to be. The index follows recent research from the Campaign to End Loneliness that revealed how a lack of socialising can be detrimental to the health and quality of life of older adults.

Based on how socially active respondents believed their lives to be, the Technology Strategy Board has ranked the major cities in accordance to their levels of social interaction, with Milton Keynes ranking as fourth.

The age index shows a decrease of interaction in later life, yet a common desire to continue to remain socially active. Despite Milton Keynes ranking fourth in the social index, it has still been found that over half, 54 per cent, of people aged over 65 in Milton Keynes want more social interaction than they are able to have.

Having the confidence to socialise increases with age; no over-65s in Milton Keynes say that lack of confidence prevents them from being socially active. However, the survey reveals a gap between the desires of older adults and what occurs in reality - nearly 1 in 3 (30 per cent) of people aged over 65 in the Milton Keynes area did not consider themselves socially active, which included simple activities such as ‘talking to family and friends on the phone’ and ‘being part of a group’.

The findings point towards a clear and significant opportunity for the improvement of products, systems and services to create greater ways and means for older adults to stay as socially active as they want to be. The Technology Strategy Board is urging people of all ages to talk about how we can all stay socially active in later life at as part of a campaign to explore the potential for innovation to help us live the way we want to for longer.

With 27 per cent of adults in Milton Keynes aged over 65 citing a lack of family and friends as preventing them from being more social, communities have an important role to play – 59 per cent of over-65s say that ‘knowing about local events’ is key to leading an active social life, the highest of all age groups surveyed. Neighbours also become increasingly important, as 87 per cent of people aged over 65 consider neighbourly chats as being ‘socially active’ - more than twice the percentage of 18 to 24-year-olds (33%).

Jackie Marshall-Cyrus, Lead Specialist on the Technology Strategy Board’s Assisted Living Innovation Platform, said: “As human beings we are intrinsically social creatures and this doesn’t change as we age chronologically. There is a clear expectation and desire among people of all ages to remain active and keep in touch with people they care about. This is what social and technological innovation is all about. It must work for everyone and not just for some. These results show that we need to talk about new and creative ways of developing exciting products, services and systems for the future.”

The Technology Strategy Board is asking people of all generations to join the conversation at or on Twitter at @TomorrowTogethr and explore how social and technological innovation can create a more independent later life for us all.