The topic of romance and the elderly is sensitive. Many people are uncomfortable thinking about their elderly loved ones in a romantic relationship (including the elders themselves), and at the end of the day, people just don’t like to discuss it. However, a growing number of seniors have a love life; love and romance is not the exclusive domain of younger people. Seniors DO desire romantic, intimate relationships, and we know that healthy relationships make for happier, healthier people.
Yet, when they form new romantic bonds, seniors face unique challenges that fall outside our average expectations of relationships. This is due, in part, to the fact that senior relationships were not that common in our recent past.
We can start by looking at the realities associated with one current fact: On average, women tend to live 8 years longer than men. Older women may feel that they are less attractive and men may have a sense of inferiority. This dynamic can be complicated by social qualities such as culture, religion and sexual orientation.
These days, it is less a question of whether or not there is potential for the senior in your life to have a romantic relationship, and more a question of how you can best support them in that relationship. Because it’s an important piece in quality of life for everyone: understanding the nature of these unique challenges helps us to better care for them. In order to provide the best care for our loved ones, we can continue to learn about and research this topic and remain sensitive to the fact that this is something that may be uncomfortable for them to discuss as well.