Love During the Senior Years

By Marcy Shoemaker, Psy.D.

 

People have the need for loving and fulfilling relationships all throughout their lives.  However, many people may associate advanced age with a lack of need for close relationships. This is a mistake that is often made due to the belief that intimacy and love belong to the young. This misconception should be challenged as many individuals in their 70s and beyond feel that their relationships improve as they age or fall newly in love. There are many reasons why senior relationships succeed, including:

  1. Seniors may know better what they want from a relationship.

  2. Seniors have a greater understanding and acceptance of their personal flaws.

  3. They have more flexibility in their demands and expectations toward their partner.

  4. There is a recognition of the need for greater communication due to previous life experiences.

  5. They have more time to commit to a relationship.

  6. They concentrate more on the need for physical and emotional connections.

 

At the same time, senior relationships can face challenges and obstacles. These may be:

  1. Lack of acceptance from family members.

  2. Health and cognitive decline, depression and medication side effects

  3. Reduced activity level and less contact with others

 

 What can be done to alleviate any of these challenges or obstacles?

  1. Consult a physician, psychologist, trusted friend or spiritual advisor to discuss relationship barriers or concerns.

  2. Recognize that close relationship are a normal part of life.

  3. Challenge family members or friends who question a need for close relationships.

  4. Stay active, maintain interests and always learn new things.