Do you have an elderly parent who’s thinking about finding companionship again? Wading into the senior dating scene can be exciting and rewarding – and can also stir up all kinds of mixed feelings for everyone involved. Adult children still grieving a lost parent might feel resentful or even abandoned, watching Dad take up with someone new; a senior thinking about venturing out might feel hesitation at facing what is certain to be a very different environment than they experienced decades earlier! The good news is that we’ve seen countless families make it through this process intact, and lots of wonderful new relationships blossom. Here are some strategies and resources we have found helpful for everyone involved:
- As always, talk things out: if even the vague idea of Mom with another man makes you uncomfortable, be honest with her about this being difficult for you, while still being supportive. Sure, you may need to vent – but save that for a spouse, sibling, or friend who’s been there – or even consider talking to a counselor, if you’re really struggling. Your goal with mom should be to share your feelings in order to move past them towards accepting and supporting her needs.
- Think of this step as a win-win for both of you: Dad gaining some needed companionship might also ease up your responsibilities as visitor and caregiver. You may find that you’re able to reclaim some precious time with family and friends, or simply some restorative time by yourself, knowing that Dad’s not relying completely on you for attention and socializing.
- Offer to help: chances are you’re a lot more web-savvy than your elderly parent; so why not offer them some hands-on help in navigating the online dating scene? First, suggest that you read together the AARP’s excellent guide to online dating for seniors. It offers all kinds of helpful tips regarding everything from knowing when you’re ready to start dating, to setting up a web profile, to important facts about cyber safety. When you’re ready to venture into the dating sites themselves, some of the most reputable include Sit Along, eHarmony for Seniors, and Match.com.
Want more information? The Senior Planet website has a lot of up-to-date and relevant resources for seniors and their families. Good luck, and have fun with it! =)