Associate Care Manager Gregory Peebles returns with a series on the Internet and aging. Gregory is both a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) and Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP) whose work focuses on helping aging adults and folks with limited independence by providing resources and support to help them discover and lead their best lives. Gregory has been a part of CCM, Inc. for over a decade. – Charlotte
Since one of the primary uses of the Internet is to find things, it was inevitable that we would
turn to it when looking for love. The “market” responded, and these days it seems thereare as many web sites and apps as there are people looking to date. Older adults, not wanting to be left out of any opportunities, now have match-making services that cater exclusively their cohort’s desire to connect, or to reconnect after loss.
What advice can we give to aging adults and those who support them in living their fullest lives?
- Be ready. Trying to start a relationship at any stage in life is complicated. It’s especially tough to get “back in the swing” after profound loss. Even caregivers and family should leave space for lots of complex feelings, staying ready for extra conversation. If you or your loved one is experiencing more difficulty than is comfortable, talk therapy can be of great assistance working through grief or even into “learned loneliness.”
- Get creative. A good profile shows personality and flair, while also being honest and accessible. Anyone looking to create an online persona should ask friends to take new, current pictures, brainstorming with confidantes about what makes the relationship-seeker unique. We know only the subjective portion of ourselves. Outside perspective can really help us understand what others experience when they encounter us.
- Avoid clichés. Lots of people like “long walks on the beach,” but if someone has a special knowledge of tides, or shells, that’s a point of connection or interest. Potential dates know then that the walk won’t be just aerobic awkward silence.
- Stay safe. Online dating isn’t dangerous, but successful users of the service know that precautions are necessary. They start by having conversations on a mobile device, as landlines can be traced to an address. When it’s time to meet, they make sure to do so in a very public space – best for coffee or lunch – transitioning to more privacy or less daylight only once trust has been established.
- Stay safe, the sequel. If the relationship becomes physical, intimacy should be safe. (Please note that if you are the adult child to an older loved one that intimacy can span everything from holding hands, so be sensitive, and don’t assume.) That said, the numbers regarding disease transmission among older adults continue to rise at alarming rates. Yet, intimacy is natural, and everyone has a right to enjoy it. You thought “that talk” was awkward when you were an adolescent child to your parent! Appreciate that everyone also has a right to stay healthy through conversation and proper precaution.
- Remain positive. It would be great to meet Mr/Ms Right immediately, but the old saying about kissing frogs remains true at any stage of life. It’s also true that a positive connection of any kind—even if not potentially romantic—is preferable to self-isolation. Meeting folks with open-ended mindset is a healthy way to begin any relationship any
Charlotte Bishop is a best-selling author , Aging Life Care Advisor, Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago.