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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Documentary tracks seniors in search of love

The Spokesman-Review

It seems perfectly logical that baby boomers – forever on a conquest to remain young, relevant and fun – will date and look for love.

Yet what about the older generation? Those people in their 70s, 80s and 90s? Are they looking for romantic love?

Yes, said filmmaker Steven Loring, who is releasing his documentary “The Age of Love” this month to coincide with Valentine’s Day. The film follows 30 seniors in Rochester, New York, who sign up for a speed-dating event for people 70 and older.

“Love is not about youth or age,” said Loring in a phone interview from his New York City home. “Love is universal. The idea was to break down the generational barrier and introduce people through their hearts.”

Our society, he said, has thought older love taboo. Perhaps that’s because this is the first wave of elderly people living long enough to make elder dating a relevant issue. He said older adults still have the need for love, that they are more complex than worrying about their latest health condition or waiting for their Social Security check.

Only one screening for “The Age of Love” is scheduled in the region. Sullivan Park Cottages Independent Living Community in the Spokane Valley is inviting the public to the Feb. 26 showing at 6:30 p.m. People are asked to RSVP.

Sharlene Lewis, the facility’s 22-year-old community relations director, said the moving screening came from the corporate office and the topic blew her mind. She had never even thought about her grandmother wanting to date.

“This is really cool,” she said, excited about the idea of perhaps having a speed-dating event.

That’s the exact type of national dialogue Loring wants to create and the reason he is having “grassroots” screenings across the county from small groups at senior centers or meetup groups to larger theaters.

Anybody can host a screening and are encouraged to set up their own speed-dating event for seniors. He’s also working with some school districts to show the film to help high school kids understand love is a lifelong pursuit and perhaps to have conversations with grandparents. Find out how they met their spouse. What was it like falling in love for the first time? What is their heart like now?

After making the film, Loring doesn’t think that the heart is capable of less as people age.

“People who came to this event acted like teenagers again,” he said. “They were worrying about their insecurities and their appearance. What will people be thinking of them? Are they going to be rejected?”

He said the film isn’t like reality TV where the participants go to speed dating, meet the love of their life and then have a big, televised marriage. It focuses on the true issue: how do older adults go about meeting someone. When they do meet someone, then what happens?

“They have the same insecurities and hopes of people when they were very young,” he said. “That’s not gone away.”

Gratia Hasness, who coordinates events for New Beginnings for Single Boomers, relates. The big question is how to meet someone. Then what? She’s eager to see the movie and laughs that trying to satisfy desire and find love is the same at 20 as it is at 60 or even 80.

“I guess it doesn’t get any better,” she said. “That’s good, but it’s also discouraging.”

Even if many of the film’s participants didn’t find love speed-dating, Loring said it made many more confident and aggressive.

He said one man said that he had never talked to women in the grocery store but after building confidence at the speed-dating event he’s empowered and talks to women all the time.

“Empowerment is really the goal,” Loring said. “Attitudes of what is possible opened up so much.”