Love is love has been a catchcry for many this week, and a group of Canberran seniors want people to remember that the sentiment is true at any age.
Eighteen people aged 65 and older were invited by the University of Canberra to test their pick-up lines and banter in a Senior Speed Dating event.
Organised by a group of Master of Occupational Therapy students and their lecturer, it aimed to open a space in which older people could socialise to encourage active ageing.
Participants took part in short dates lasting a total of six minutes each, followed by an afternoon tea for further mingling. Prompt cards were handed out to inspire conversation.
Dr Daniela Castro De Jong, lecturer in occupational therapy, said the University of Canberra team hoped to create an opportunity for elderly Canberrans to meet others with similar interests who may be able to then spend more time together.
“Doing things together, like going out for a movie, a coffee, or a walk around the lake, is beneficial at any age,” Castro De Jong said. “For persons over 65 years old, in particular, meeting others through shared interests can improve quality of life and health and combat social isolation.”
While the aim was to create new social connections, participants in attendance were open to a romantic relationship.
Second-year student Anna Ye said the event gave older people the chance to recapture their youth by getting back on the dating circuit. “It seems like a great and fun opportunity to provide social opportunities to a section of the population that is usually excluded from the occupation of dating,” Ye said.
The team already has another event planned due to demand. It has also received interest from those under the age of 65 and who live in other states.
“It seems that there is a need out there for people who are approaching retirement or who have just retired to make these new connections, independent of where you live or independent of your gender,” Castro De Jong said.
The event was inspired by thirty seniors from Rochester, New York, who signed up for speed dating exclusively for 70- to 90-year-olds. Their experiences were captured in a documentary called The Age of Love.
Director Steven Loring said the event was a unique chance to discover how age affects the desire to start over, be held once again in someone’s arms and seek new companionship and affection. “I set out with one question: Do decades of life and loss constrict our hearts, or might time develop them in unexpected ways?
“As we watch these seniors navigate the comedy and drama of dating, their actions and emotions combine into something much deeper – revealing how the desire to love and be loved not only connects hearts of young and old, but, more unexpectedly, remains just as confounding, nerve-wracking and rewarding at any stage in life.”
Watch the trailer below.Do you have an idea for a story?
Email [email protected]