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The Parent Trap, Part 6: The Senior Prom 12.12.2013

Perhaps your aging parent has already dealt with the loss of their spouse. They’ve already been through the grieving period and have now been able to move on in a healthy way. And maybe now they’re at the point where they are considering giving their heart to someone else. What do you do with this situation?

This issue may catch you off guard. But it is really not uncommon for elderly folks who have lost their life partner to eventually seek companionship in another. Realistically, it’s a natural response. After all, decades of living with a mate have taught them to love companionship. Being stripped of that after all that time will cause them to miss it, to crave it, and possibly even to seek it out once more.

Even if the prospect of your parent entering the dating world seems awkward or out of place to you, take comfort in the fact that being fifty or older actually has its benefits when it comes to dating. In fact, you can be less concerned about your parent dating than your teenager. The main thing that the older generation has going for them is experience – life experience. If you are in your fifties or older, it means that you’ve lived a lot of life and you know who you are and what you want. You can put yourself out there with confidence and know exactly what you’re looking for in a partner.

The advantageousness of your parent entering the dating world will depend on them and their situation. But other than personal circumstances that may not be conducive to them seeking new companionship, there are really no obvious downsides to this pursuit. On the contrary, there are many benefits that come with this type of partnering. Studies show that elderly folks that have frequent social interaction are happier. In fact love can stimulate better brain function and more positive emotions. Being “in love” with someone just may give your parent a brighter outlook on life. On a more practical side, having a partner may make life easier in day to day living. Perhaps your parent is independent enough to live in their own home, but needs another set of hands to make practical tasks easier. Or maybe they need someone around to remind them of appointments and keep them up-to-date on their medicine. A new partner would be the perfect person to help in these areas.

Now, be aware that if your parent is looking to start dating again, social media may play a part in this. The popularity of online dating sites for seniors is on the rise. There are even certain dating websites that are being created specifically for the fifty-and-over age group. These sites allow for people to peruse different profiles easily and find exactly what they’re looking for with little effort. It’s an easy to use and convenient tool for dating, so don’t be surprised if you find out that your parent has created an online profile.

In conclusion, these are some things to be aware of in the event that your parent is looking to enter a new romantic relationship after their spouse is gone. It’s one area of their lives that can be left entirely up to them as they advance in age. As their kids, you shouldn’t try to push them into it if they’re not ready. And some may never be ready; it’s not a path for everyone. On the flip side, don’t be too quick to shut it down if you see them heading in this direction. In all likelihood, having a boyfriend or girlfriend or even a new spouse will be a positive thing in their lives. No one likes to be alone. Why should your parent have to be?

Coming next week: The Parent Trap, Part 7: Signing over “the Power”