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Seniors increasingly turn to online dating to combat loneliness

Posted September 27

A new generation of retirees, the Baby Boomers, are entering retirement and bringing a very different attitude towards dating than prior generations.

This story was written for our sponsor, Cambridge Village of Apex.

How American seniors interact with romance and dating is experiencing some dramatic changes.

A new generation of retirees -- the Baby Boomers -- are entering retirement and bringing a very different attitude toward dating than prior generations.

New technologies, like online dating, are changing the way people connect, and seniors are increasingly taking advantage of these options. Also, updated iterations of the assisted living community are emerging that focus much more on a healthy social life.

Here Come the Boomers

The Baby Boomer generation, born between 1946 and 1964, is the largest generation ever to enter retirement in the United States. They are just now beginning to hit 65, and the percentage of them in retirement is rising quickly. Around 10,000 Boomers retire every day.

"The new retirees we are seeing bring a different perspective on dating to retirement," said Victoria Sosa, with Cambridge Village of Apex. "They were part of the 60s and 70s movement of liberation and individuality, and seemed comfortable continuing that lifestyle as they enter retirement."

Sosa also said with people living past 65, these new retirees are looking at these years as a start of something new, not as simply an end.

"They have an optimism toward the coming decades, and how best to enjoy them, which includes being hopeful about continuing to pursue romantic relationships," she said.

Men and Women Living Longer, and Often Going it Alone

Even though both sexes are living longer, women still live eight years longer than their male counterparts. Because of this, the mismatch of men to women grows as time goes on, leading to around seven women for every man in assisted living.

Of these, 55 percent of women and 28 percent of men are unmarried. This means women are about twice as likely to be unattached.

Being alone for seniors increases self-reported negative emotions, with 43 percent of seniors saying they have a persistent sense of loneliness.

"Many people have lost their loved ones and move here because they are lonely and isolated," Sosa said. "It is exciting to see when residents find companionship and even love. It's true that love never ends."

New Technologies Attracting Older Users

To combat this age-old problem, new technologies are beginning to attract single seniors.

The trusted senior resource AARP runs their dating site called OurTime, which has a growing following. Another, called Stitch, is trying to market itself as more of a casual dating site.

For seniors who simply want companionship and someone with similar interests, a site like Stitch is meant to appeal to them, eliminating the pressure of moving toward a serious relationship.

About six percent of those 55 to 64 years old, and 3 percent of those over 65 report using an online dating site. While this is not a large percentage, it is growing and is not far behind the 10 percent of those 18 to 24 who use these sites.

Dating Life at Assisted Living Communities

Assisted living communities are doing far more than the 'retirement homes' of the past to personalize the living experience of their residents. Activities like horseback riding, boat trips, traveling, exercise classes and other social events at assisted living communities increase seniors' chances to build relationships with those they live with.

"In our community, we see a lot of people meeting and developing relationships," Sosa pointed out. “We do our best to create an engaged and active community, and the rest takes care of itself. A lot of great relationships and even romance develop naturally.”

This story was written for our sponsor, Cambridge Village of Apex.

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