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May 16, 2011|By Marni Jameson, Orlando Sentinel

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Across the nation, and especially in communities that attract a lot of older Americans, the free-love generation is continuing to enjoy an active — if not always healthy — sex life.

At a stage in life when many would expect sexually transmitted diseases to be waning, aging baby boomers are once again busting stereotypes, setting records and breaking rules.

In the five years from 2005 to 2009, the number of reported cases of syphilis and chlamydia among those 55 and older increased 43 percent, according to an Orlando Sentinel analysis of data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the Sunbelt where retirees have formed large communities, the rise was even more dramatic.

For instance, in Arizona's Maricopa and Pima counties — home to large retirement communities just outside Phoenix — the percent of reported cases of syphilis and chlamydia increased twice as fast as the national average from 2005 to 2009. Reported cases were up 87 percent among those 55 and older in those counties.

In Central Florida, where The Villages and other retirement communities sprawl across several counties, reported cases of syphilis and chlamydia increased 71 percent among those 55 and older in that same period. And South Florida saw a 60 percent rise in those two sexually transmitted infections among the same age group, according to the Florida Department of Health.

In Riverside County, Calif., home to retirement mecca Palm Springs, reported cases were up 50 percent over the five-year span, according to data from that county's health department.

The reported cases of syphilis and chlamydia among older adults outpaced the nation's average, according to the analysis. Among all age groups nationwide, reported cases of syphilis increased 60 percent between 2005 and 2009, while in the 55 to 64 age group it increased 70 percent. Meanwhile, the incidences of chlamydia rose 27 percent among all ages, and double that among those age 55 to 64.

As a result of the national trend among seniors, Medicare is considering providing coverage for STD single.de gutschein märz 2015 screenings for seniors. In March, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid office announced that it was looking into adding STD exams to the national health-insurance program, which already pays for HIV screenings. Medicare also is weighing the benefits of paying for behavioral counseling for sexually active seniors.

Why now?

The factors driving the rise of STDs in the older set include Americans living longer, healthier lives and a new class of medications, which include Viagra, making more sex possible. Many older adults didn't get the safe-sex messages that younger generations received, say experts, so their condom use is lower. In addition, more seniors are living in group retirement communities where there's more socializing.

"These seniors may lose a spouse, then get lonely," said Dr. Jason Salagubang, a geriatrician on staff at Florida Hospital Apopka. "They're living in retirement communities with others in the same boat, and sparks fly."

Joanne Williams, director of Baltimore County Department of Aging, gets that and takes a proactive approach to STD education at the 20 senior centers she oversees.

"The discussion certainly happens here," Williams said. She applies a portion of the funds her agency receives from the state for health education promoting safer senior sex and getting tested.

Julia Gill, director of the Division of Disease Control for the Florida Department of Health, said the heavy marketing for sex-enhancing pharmaceuticals aimed at seniors is also pushing the trend.

Besides Viagra, other medications such as hormone replacements are helping seniors remain sexually active longer. Progesterone and estrogen creams help make sex more comfortable for women, while testosterone-replacement drugs boost libido in men and women.

Finally, a more open sexual attitude has contributed to the rising infection rate.

"The flower children who were in their 20s back in the 1960s are now in their 70s," said Salagubang. "They're the make-love-not-war generation, and old habits die hard."

Anna Fowlkes is of that generation. Five years ago, the 64-year-old widow, mother and grandmother from Baltimore, tested positive for HIV. She picked it up from a man she dated whom she'd known since her childhood. "We grew up together. We'd started going to church together. I never thought to ask," Fowlkes said.

Today, Fowlkes reaches out to other seniors by speaking to groups about sie sucht ihn nrw quoka.de her expereince and showing a brief video she produced called "Senior Dating: Older, Wiser, Safer."

More prone to STDs

Just because seniors are older and wiser doesn't mean they're not susceptible to the same diseases as everyone else, Salagubang said. In fact, they're more susceptible.

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Mature couple wining and dining

With the obsession that today’s media has with youth and appearance, you could be forgiven for thinking that it’s mike singletary hall of fame only the young who are looking for companionship, that dating is a young person’s game.

Go on, be honest. Which of the following images do you think the media is more likely to use to accompany an article on online dating?

Dating for Seniors: Romantic Date

Dating for Seniors: Group

Exactly.

Well, it’s time things changed. We are all living decades longer than we once did, and are staying fitter, healthier (and in some cases, friskier) further into our wisdom years than ever before. At the same time, more older adults over 55 find themselves single and looking, either through divorce or the tragic loss of a husband or wife they loved for many years.

This means that there are more seniors and baby boomers than ever before looking for some companionship to fill the void of their prior partner.

Because no matter how old you get, one thing single.de gutschein februar 2015 about human nature never changes: nobody likes feeling lonely.

Older adults, however, look for companionship in a way that’s very different from their younger counterparts. Once you’re into your wisdom years your needs, desires and expectations are very different from what you’re looking for when you’re in your 20s.

Let’s take a look at nine things you (probably) didn’t know about dating for older adults:

1. Age doesn’t matter so much

Match screen capture

Emphasis on age on Match.com

It seems counter-intuitive to say that people characterized by one attribute — how old they are — don’t care as much about age when looking for a companion, but it’s true. Young people are incredibly age-prejudiced, to such an extent that age is one of the most important filter criteria used to find a match on online dating sites.

Just check out the image to the right from Match.com. Age is the second-most important attribute used to help users determine if they’re interested in a potential match (after the photo). This scenario is not just on Match.com, but on E-harmony, Ourtime, Plenty of Fish, OK Cupid, and the rest of the dating websites.

The filtering mechanisms on these dating sites similarly emphasize the importance age takes in the minds of young match-seekers, with all users asked to specify the age range they are seeking, with many choosing ridiculously narrow ranges (e.g. “man aged 32 seeking woman aged 26-29“!)

Far more important is what shape you are in, how healthy you are, and what activities you can do.

Adults over 55 are far more flexible in their approach to companionship. Part of this is probably the wisdom that comes with age, but even more significant single.de gutschein februar 2015 is an essential truth about how age works. Once you get into your fifties and beyond, the actual number of your age becomes less and less significant. Far more important is what shape you are in, how healthy you are, what activities you can do.

70 year-old woman looking for a man? If you’re active and like going for long walks and playing golf, you’re going to be much more interested in the fit and energetic 82-year-old who can share your activities than the 65-year-old waiting on a hip replacement who can no longer walk long distances. On the other hand, the 75-year old woman who has had past back problems and likes to stay in with wine and movies might be a great match for that 65-year-old man.

Age is secondary. What you do with our age is what really matters.

2. Neither do looks

Tinder App

Tinder: photos are all-important

The other stunning aspect of dating for young people is how much looks matter. The hottest online dating app for young people today is Tinder, which proudly claims to be matching over 450 million love-seekers daily.

Take a quick look at the Tinder user interface to the left. What stands out as the most important aspect of a person when determining if you may be a potential match?

It’s the photo.

With Tinder (and pretty much every other online dating system on the market today) the photo is all-important. This reinforces a message that young people get hammered with on a daily basis: nothing matters more than how you look.

We’d be lying if we said that appearance wasn’t important at all to the over-55 demographic, but it turns out to be a much lower priority.

Maybe this is because older adults are wise enough to know that looks have very little to do with whether someone is going to be a kind, loving and caring companion. Maybe it’s because the physical nature of attractiveness changes when you get older, or maybe they know that being “hot and sexy” is more a function of your personality than how you look.

Whatever the reason, most older adults will tell you that how someone looks is doesn’t matter much in their search to find a companion.

3. It’s not drinks, it’s dinner

Dinner

One thing we have been struck with has been the important role that dinner plays in the social (or not-so-social) lives of most older adults. Nobody likes the idea of spending years cooking for themselves and eating alone. And always being the lone single person when your married friends want to catch up for dinner starts to become a little tiresome. More than any other activity, dinner is where older adults feel the isolation of being alone most strongly.

This is why, for most older adults, a dinner date is the most important first step towards finding companionship.

This makes quite a comparison to how many young people organize their first dates, which usually involve meeting up in a bar. Several of today’s dating services are built specifically around this concept: Grouper, for example, hooks up groups of young people in bars and offers them a free first drink as part of the package.

For older adults, it’s not drinks, it’s dinner.

4. Not everybody is looking for love & marriage

No marriageThe fundamental premise behind most dating services for young people is that the ultimate goal is to find love and marriage. While this is true for some older adults, it is far from universal.

Many seniors really are looking for companionship and nothing more. Some are seeking someone to have dinner with, some are looking for someone to travel with them, others are looking for someone to share their favorite activities.

It’s always fun to have attraction, romance, and flirting.  For many people at this stage, that is enough. For others, it’s more. There is an entire spectrum of dating that goes far beyond the marriage-oriented online dating services available today.

Which goes a long way to explaining the next point …

5. It’s not just about one companion

Many older adults have multiple needs for companionship. Sure, some are focused only on finding that single life partner who will give them a loving relationship for the next few decades. But just as many are actually seeking multiple companions to fit in with their varied social needs.

A dinner-date companion.

A travel companion.

A hiking companion. A gardening buddy. A couples bridge partner.

This isn’t infidelity, it’s just common sense. A recognition that most older adults are prepared for the fact that no single person may be the solution to all their social needs, that they may be just as well served by multiple companions.

6. The real world counts

Senior with phoneFar more than their younger counterparts, older adults feel much more comfortable evaluating a potential match in the real world instead of online. That’s right, instead of texting and messaging, they actually prefer to talk to someone on the phone to find out if they like them.

Can you believe that?

All the Millennials out there are shaking their heads, wondering why on earth anyone would like to talk on the phone when they can instant message instead. And that sums up the generation gap in a nutshell … show that young adults are three times as likely to prefer to text than talk via the phone, the complete opposite of their older counterparts.

One of our favorite lines comes from a :

Kids, you’ve heard of phone calls, right? Did you know that there’s an app on your smartphone that lets you talk out loud to family and friends? Ask your grandparents about it.

It won’t surprise you, of course, to discover that most of today’s online dating services are designed around chatting with potential matches online before things get serious enough for a phone call.

Kids these days!

7. Trust is hyper-important

Yes, trust is important to everyone, no matter how old they are. But for a retiree on a fixed income, who has heard countless stories of peers being taken advantage of both online and in the real world, trust takes on a special significance.

Is this person who they say they are?

Are they authentically interested in me, or are they after something more?

Or, as we have been often asked by older women considering prospective male companions: are they truly looking for companionship, or someone to nurse them through their later years?

Stitch Update: the more we talk to the people registering for Stitch, the more we have come to understand how important the issue of trust is (and how absent it is in most online dating sites today). That’s why we’re currently working on a number of features for Stitch to ensure that the people you meet are who they say they are.

8. Filters, not so much

Profile

Match.com filter criteria

One thing that many dating services have in common is using fancy algorithms to help you find a partner based on a dazzling array of filters you provide them. Younger people can be zealous about the rules they impose on potential partners.

Ethnicity.

Religion.

Occupation.

Even eye color!

The profile selection page from Match.com paints a clear picture: young people dating have a well-defined set of filters, which they use to help them find that “perfect” match.

We’ve found older adults to be far more refreshingly open-minded.

Whether it was the Jewish 82-year-old, who admitted in her youth she would have only accepted “a handsome Jewish boy” but now “doesn’t mind about their background as long as they are kind”, or the 59-year-old devout Catholic who had never considered dating Protestants when she was younger, we found an incredible willingness to judge potential partners on their personality and shared interests than any pre-conceived notions of who the “right” partner might be.

Just another example of why we love our members … they never cease to inspire us.

9. Online dating stinks

In case you hadn’t figured it out by now, all the differences we’ve described above lead most older adults to conclude that, well, online dating is not a positive experience at all. It’s built around the needs of younger generations, who care a lot about age, about appearances, about filtering out potential matches based on arbitrary criteria, who are happy to spend inordinate amounts of time online, browsing and scrutinizing potential matches.

The online dating sites which market themselves as being for 55 and older are simply re-branded versions of dating sites for younger adults. None of them recognize that there are fundamental differences in what matters to older adults and what they’re looking for.

 

So what do you think? Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments!

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Zahra Doejune 2, 2017
Morbi gravida, sem non egestas ullamcorper, tellus ante laoreet nisl, id iaculis urna eros vel turpis curabitur.
Zahra Doejune 2, 2017
Morbi gravida, sem non egestas ullamcorper, tellus ante laoreet nisl, id iaculis urna eros vel turpis curabitur.
Zahra Doejune 2, 2017
Morbi gravida, sem non egestas ullamcorper, tellus ante laoreet nisl, id iaculis urna eros vel turpis curabitur.

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