senior datingDuring the Christmas break we were lucky enough to spend time with extended family. During one of our gatherings we were watching a football game. At a break a commercial came on for a dating website service, “…committed to helping senior men and women find love every day.” The ad showed mature men and women with perfect hair, very few wrinkles, who barely looked 50 talking about dating for those over 50. My mother-in-law, who is in her 60’s and has been single for over 10 years, was watching the ad with me. I turned to her and sheepishly said, “What do you think about something like that?” She looked at me with an inquisitive expression and said, “I don’t know.” I asked her, “Why?” and she said, “I’m not sure that I want to date again at this point in my life.”

Not wanting to push the issue, I dropped the conversation but it triggered some thoughts about seniors and dating.  Forty-five years ago, in 1967, the average life expectancy for males was 67 and for females was 74 (see reference 1).  Fast forward to 2012, life expectancy for males is 83 and for females was 85 and older women outnumber older men at 23.0 million older women to 17.5 million older men. (see references 2 and 3). Further, in 2010, older men were much more likely to be married than older women, 72% of men, 42% of women. Widows accounted for 40% of all older women in 2010. There were over four times as many widows (8.7 million) as widowers (2.1 million).

Given statistics on the imbalance of older men and women, what (if anything) can senior dating services offer older adults? With increased use of the Internet and social websites, senior dating sites can help decrease social isolation by linking older adults with likeminded adults in their communities. They can offer seniors someone to talk to, to do activities with and in general offer some companionship. This is not to say that all senior dating sites are worthwhile but after careful investigation to ensure the reputation of the site, senior dating websites should not be ruled out as ways to meet new people.

Guest Blogger: Amanda W. Scarbrough, Ph.D., East Texas Area Health Education Center

References

  1. “Life Expectancy in the USA 1999-98”. http://demog.berkeley.edu/~andrew/1918/figure2.html. Retrieved on January 11, 2013.
  2. “Life Expectancy” http://www.ssa.gov/planners/lifeexpectancy.htm, Retrieved on January 11, 2013.
  3. “A Profile of Older Americans: 2011”, www.aoa.gov/aoaroot/aging_statistics/Profile/…/2011profile.pdf, Retrieved on January 11, 2013.
  4. Rodger adds a link to a set of ratings for popular senior dating services: http://senior-dating-websites.no1reviews.com

Join us for a real-time discussion about questions raised by this essay at a new time on any Wednesday from 12:15 p.m. to 12:45 p.m.  See Discussion and SL tabs above for details. Link to the virtual meeting room: http://tinyurl.com/cjfx9ag.