While many things in our lives have changed due to COVID-19, some things haven’t including the need for companionship and love. And while people usually talk of “young love”, there is no age limit on what the heart wants. In fact, living with the pandemic has actually encouraged more seniors to take the plunge and some assisted living facilities have even seen an increase in marriages among their residents. And why not? “Research shows that socially connected older adults remain healthier and live longer.” Perhaps the pandemic has made us all realize that connections matter more than we even thought, and there is no time to waste if you find that special one.
As Daniel Reingold, president and chief executive of the Hebrew Home at Riverdale in the Bronx said, “Without question” his residents, have been more open to love during the pandemic. “What I’m sensing is not that there’s an increased fear of mortality so much that there’s an increased appreciation for love,” he said. “People realizing, I want to have somebody in my life right now. So, they’re finding each other.” According to a recent article in the NY Times, the Sexuality Research and Social Policy found that it was “common” for assisted living residents to have a “continued interest in romantic relationships.” However, since assisted living facilities have essentially been in a lockdown mode to avoid the spread of more infections, residents may be even more inclined to find a companion within their home turf. Without the benefit of outside visits or visitors, they have spent more time getting to know other residents and for some, it has turned into love. When 91-year-old Sam Gallo and 86-year-old Millie Hathorn got engaged in March 2020, Mr. Gallo wrote a letter explaining his decision to his three children. “Only at death is love done. Love was not done … with us.”
And while love doesn’t stop at a certain age, it can’t be contained by borders either. Another story in the Times profiled a couple who found themselves on opposite sides of a closed border due to the pandemic. However, where there is a will, there is a way. Karsten Tüchsen Hansen, an 89-year-old retired farmer who lives in Germany, and Inga Rasmussen, an 85-year-old former caterer who lives in Denmark, have managed to meet daily at the nearest border crossing while still maintaining a safe social distance. Their love story has inspired people from all over the world and almost every day, they are joined by a reporter or a curious onlooker who can’t get enough of their story. As Victor Hugo famously said, “Life is the flower for which love is the honey.”
So, while the pandemic has certainly turned our world upside down, it has also made us appreciate things that we might have previously taken for granted. For some of us, it’s been about spending more time with family, for others it’s meant enjoying a slower pace, and for others, it has meant finding love and companionship when they were least expecting it. And it proves that age is just a number especially when it comes to romance. As Karen Gross, Director of Marketing at FirstLantic Healthcare, said, “Our senior clients inspire me every day with their ability to find positivity and happiness despite the trying circumstances that all of us are facing due to Covid. I truly admire their spirit, their resilience, and their capacity for love.”