In 2011 the baby boomer generation will be entering their golden years. That means about 25% of our population will be over the age of 65 and more of us than ever will be caring for parents. Some of that 25% will be armed with knowledge of computers and a prescription for Viagra. It's no wonder that online dating sites are seeing large increases in the number of elderly who are signing up for their services. What are they looking for?
- Friendly relationships
- Similar interests
- Good health
- Financial security
Seniors can find it difficult to meet new people. They normally have to depend on friends, relatives or a caregiver to introduce them to someone. Or they may meet someone at church, a volunteer job or at an event they are attending. The online dating sites give them more options.Most seniors aren't looking for long term commitment or a substitute caregiver. They're simply looking for someone who shares the same interests. A person they'd like to go to dinner with or see a movie together. The other person's health is a big concern when looking for someone to date. Their financial situation is normally a secondary concern.
Transportation is another tricky issue. They don't want their caregiver dropping them off at the movies like a couple of teenagers. Cabs can get pricey and it's hard to pick up your date on a bus. That's why some seniors at online dating sites are just looking for a pen pal.
While you probably never thought you'd have to lecture your parents about dating, it may be time to put on your caregiver hat and tackle it. But what do you say to a parent who's signed up for an online dating site?
The rules that apply to every one else apply to seniors as well. Remind them not to reveal too much personal information about themselves at first. Home addresses, telephone numbers and schedules are best kept private.
They should never, ever, ever, send money or give banking or credit card information to anyone they've met on the internet. I know of one gentleman who sent a lady he'd met on an online dating site money so she could travel to see him. Needless to say, once she received the cash he never heard from her again.
A reputable online dating site may be a good option for a tech savvy parent. All they need is a computer and an internet connection. There are a few of the online dating sites that are geared especially to seniors or they may opt to sign up for a more mainstream site such as Match.com or eHarmony.
Are you caring for a parent who has used an online dating site? What was their experience? Please leave a comment and share what you've learned with other caregivers.
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--Mary Ann Powers