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Elderly relatives who have had a spouse pass away may be hesitant before finding companionship again later in life, but many do begin new relationships in their golden years with members of their senior care communities. Some recent examples of love among seniors were profiled by Boston.com for Valentine's Day.
Leah Havener had been widowed for 21 years when she met John Larkin at an elder care center in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Although both had been married in the past, there was an instant connection between the two. Larkin told the news source that he would intentionally find excuses to visit the second floor of the building, where Havener lived. After several months of dating, Larkin proposed and the couple was married nine years ago.
"He just saw me coming down the aisle and was all smiles," Havener told the news source. "I waited for the right one."
Larkin said that while Valentine's Day is about celebrating love with your families, he didn't see it as different from any other day.
"We’ve already got plenty of that," he told the news source. "It's every day, not just one day."
Not too far away, it was a similar story for 89-year-old Bob Mizzy and 90-year-old Nancy Johnson. The two first met when they sat across from each other at a bingo table during an event at the Beverly Council on Aging and Senior Community Center. Johnson was initially hesitant, as it had been 12 years since her prior husband's death. However, she eventually accepted Mizzy's offer of a dinner date. The duo is now engaged to be married.
At the senior center where Johnson and Mizzy met, preparations are underway for the annual Valentine's Day party. While senior couples are certainly encouraged, there's an emphasis on the different types of love that seniors have, whether it's the memory of their longtime partner, the love of friends and family or simply the sense of kinship that elder care communities can provide.
"No matter your age, you’ll always have love in your life," the center's director, Kendra Seavy, told the news source. "Just because you can’t buy someone roses doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate the holiday."
Although seniors may initially be hesitant, meeting new people in both romantic and non-romantic capacities can be one of the biggest benefits of retirement communities. Caregivers should do their best to encourage these relationships, as they can help seniors find happiness later in life.