Finding love is a difficult task at any age, but once you reach the later stages of life, the challenge can be even greater.
Because meeting new people can be especially hard, some organizations across the country are creating opportunities to make it a little bit easier by hosting senior speed-dating events.
Last month, the Shepherd’s Center Central in Kansas City organized their own speed dating event targeted to people over the age of 55, the first event of its kind in the metro.
The event, which was held at McCrite Plaza at Briarcliff, a retirement community just north of the Missouri River, was inspired by a documentary called The Age of Love, which follows 30 seniors between the ages of 70 and 90, as they attend a speed-dating event in Rochester, New York.
For the Kansas City event, which took place on June 24, the Shepherd’s Center lowered the qualifying age to 55 to increase attendance.
Here's how it went — each of the participants sat across from one another at a table and after five minutes a bell would ring, and the men would move to the next table. As they conversed, they scored one another and took notes and at the end of the event scores were tallied, those that expressed interest were given contact information, and from then it was up to them.
For most at the event, it was their first time speed-dating and expectations were varied.
Margy Galusha, who lives at McCrite Plaza, just wanted to have some fun.
“I’m not taking this seriously at all,” she said. “It’s just fun. I’m getting over my shyness. The more you’re out and about talking to folks, you find out that, you know, everybody loves to be heard. It’s important in single life, when you’re a widow. And most of the women here are widows, unfortunately.”
Dan MacLean, who traveled to the event from the Brookside area, says he was just there to meet new people, not necessarily find a date — or so he says.
“I wouldn’t admit it if I were,” he said.
MacLean, 82, says that if there is anything he’s learned as he got older, it’s that women are resilient. “For every single man my age, there are at least ten women,” Maclean said.
He said as much of a challenge as this may be for men, it’s even more difficult for women.
Linda Bishop’s husband passed away several years ago. She says meeting new people is a challenge, especially when you don’t get out as often as you used to. She’s tried meeting people online, but says it wasn't for her.
“That didn’t turn out very good,” Bishop said.
She was hoping to find a companion at the speed dating event.
“Just to maybe go out once in a while, do something with once in a while, you know, a friend,” she said.
Two new speed-dating events will be announced by The Shepherd’s Center Central on Oct. 18 at a showing of The Age of Love at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, Kansas.
There will be a new rule to deal with the issue of the lack of available men — all women who want to register must also register a gentleman with whom they are not involved romantically.