It's Not Just for the Younger Crowd
February 9, 2010
Older adults are living healthy, active lives and remaining in the workforce longer. Is it really surprising that these vital seniors also enjoy close, personal relationships in addition to all the other busy parts of their lives?
Getting older doesn't mean losing your need for affection, connection and intimacy. In fact, sharing in a relationship can have positive effects on virtually every aspect of your life. Seniors who are in close relationships live longer, healthier, more fulfilling lives. According to one study, people with good friends and confidantes outlived those without close relationships by 22 percent.
However, dating may be a very different game, with different goals, than when many older Ohioans first started going out. An AARP study of 3,501 singles aged 40 to 69 showed that about one-third of those surveyed were either in a relationship or dating one person exclusively. Of those who were dating, almost half (49 percent) said they were simply looking for someone "to talk to and do things with." Only eight percent listed "to find someone to marry" as their reason for dating.
Dating can be one way to socialize and meet new people, but it isn't always easy, especially for someone who may be trying it again after years in a relationship. A crucial first step to dating success is to fully understand why you are looking for a relationship and what you desire from that "special someone."
The best way to meet new people and expand your social life is to become involved in activities that interest you. Find something you enjoy doing or have always wanted to do, such as going for walks, learning a new language or mastering a new hobby, then go out and do it. Cultivating your interests increases the chance of meeting other people who share those interests. Even if the people you meet are not necessarily people you would want to date, they might know, and help you meet, more date-able people.
Travel programs, such as Exploritas, offer learning adventures worldwide for older adults who want to travel. Volunteer programs like the Senior Corps provide great opportunities to meet others who share your interests and passions while helping your community. Competitive and regional sports programs target active seniors. Many Ohio colleges and universities offer Lifelong Learning Institutes, which provide an opportunity to expand your knowledge, as well as meet others.
People of all ages appreciate a close relationship. We need to recognize and celebrate the fact that affection and intimacy can continue to be an important part of everyone's life, no matter how old you are.
About Aging Issues
Twice each month, the Ohio Department of Aging delivers Aging Issues, a column from Director Barbara E. Riley that examines topics of interest to older Ohioans, their family members and others who care for and serve them. Aging Issues is intended for personal use as well as re-publication in newspapers, newsletters and other publications with older adults as a target audience.
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