Thinking about a parent’s love life rarely makes adult children feel comfortable, yet you know that romance and intimacy is a normal and common aspect of being an adult. Currently, there are at least seven dating sites that are geared to the over 50 crowd, so it seems that many seniors, and not just your father, want to continue to have a connection to someone special as they age. Companionship can enhance an aging person’s quality of life and ease some of the loneliness that can develop after the loss of a spouse or close friends. It makes sense why some older people would want to pursue a senior romance.
The Down Low
Having a relationship can mean more to seniors than just companionship; they may want to remain sexually active as well. With the development of erectile dysfunction medications as well as a decreased risk of accidental pregnancies, seniors may feel freer to explore their sexuality than past generations did. That freedom has also seen a marked increase in sexually transmitted diseases in the elderly population. While they may feel more open to intimate relationships, seniors may still recognize a stigma attached to sex, making them less likely to discuss safe sex either with their partners or medical providers.
Looking for Love
Some seniors may feel insecure about the possibility of finding love later in life. They can feel unattractive because they do not look like they did when they were younger. Older men may be more likely to look for love with younger women who may serve as a partner as well as a caregiver. Older women may have even more difficulty finding senior romance because they live longer than men, which can explain why your father is so popular in his community. For older people who have adjusted to and accepted their aging selves, well, they may be ready to seek out a partner to feel connected on an intimate level.
Your father may not want to discuss his relationship status with you, but if he is willing, try to get a sense if he is enjoying the attention or if he finds it a nuisance. He may want to have someone to talk to and share memories with, or he may wish to have a physical relationship. He may also want to be left alone.
If he is receptive to beginning a senior romance, that is up to him. Your role as an adult child is balancing his safety with respecting his privacy. Encourage him to discuss parameters with you or a trusted friend, but make it clear you do not want nor need all the details. Assure him that you want him to be happy but that you also want to keep him safe from exploitation or other elder abuse.
Good luck to both of you!