After the death of his father, Steve Loring watched as his mother learned to face life alone. Then when his 78- year old uncle met and fell madly in love with a woman, Loring was inspired to learn more about the emotional needs of his aging loved ones. In a touch of serendipitous fortune the “healthy aging” coalition in Rochester, NY announced they were conducting a speed dating event exclusively for 70-to-90 year olds. Loring began to wonder how age affects our desires for companionship and affection. So, he set out to create “The Age of Love” a documentary with one question at its core, “Do decades of life and loss constrict our hearts, or might time develop them in unexpected ways?”
Marked by humor and rife with emotion “The Age of Love” chronicles 30 seniors in Rochester, NY as they experience a first-of-its-kind speed dating event for 70-to-90 year olds. Audiences witness seniors open their hearts to new love and dare to dream that intimacy and companionship are not a thing of the past.
After being married for more than half of their lives many seniors find that the loss of a spouse leaves a loneliness and isolation only sated by companionship. Like Loring, NAIPC Greater Charleston and Lowcountry Senior Center strive for the same goal, to spread the word that love can be found at any age.
On June 30, 2015, after hearing about Loring and his documentary the NAIPC Greater Charleston chapter partnered with the Lowcountry Senior Center to bring this inspiring documentary to Charleston, SC. The film was a big hit and had close to 200 attendees. Since the screening was such a success NAIPC Greater Charleston and Lowcountry Senior Center decided to co-host a speed dating event with a kit provided by the filmmakers. Elizabeth Bernat, executive director of Lowcountry Senior Center, said, “It’s a trendy event you see in the community for 20/30-year-olds. Why can’t it be applied to people who are older?”
So, the first of several speed dating events with Lowcountry Senior Center and NAIPC Greater Charleston was held on July 29, 2015 for 23 seniors (11 men and 12 women). Each “date” lasted five minutes before a bell signaled for the gentlemen to move along to the next lovely lady. While some participants were looking for love, others were only interested in companionship. Lisa Zobel, Director of Leisure and Learning, with Lowcountry Senior Center said, “We believe it is a great way to help older adults, many of whom have not dated in decades ease into dating in a safe, comfortable environment.”
Speed dating is an avenue that younger generations have embraced, but the older generation remains tentative. Like many seniors Josefine Joyce was cynical about speed-dating but she was pleasantly surprised, “I really liked the film but was very reluctant and skeptical about participating in a speed dating program. As it turns out I have met a very nice man.” Two dates in and things are going well.
Greater Charleston representatives are pleased to report that 11 matches were made and the over-all consensus was that this was a safe place to try something new. Barbara Franklin, chair of NAIPC Greater Charleston, said it best, “We have always considered “’supportive relationships’ a key element of successful aging in place but welcomed the opportunity to highlight and foster personal relationships in this way.” With any luck these seniors will develop relationships to combat loneliness with someone to talk to, going to dinner, or having a movie date.