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Get off the couch and out of the house

By Tom P Blake – Finding Love after 50

Note from TomThis article was originally published in October, 2002, and has been updated in 2016. The underlying message is as important today as it was then.

Tim, an Orange County, California, resident is concerned about his 72-year-old mother. She was widowed several months ago and is living alone, and Tim feels she's isolating herself by staying home too much.

Tim knows it's important for his mom to get off the couch and out of the house, meet new friends and take part in activities, but she's shy and private. Tim asked for suggestions for her.

I hear about people similar to Tim's mom all of the time. They were devoted to their spouses and now they find themselves alone. At 65, nearly half of the women are widows. Many are lost and don't know what to do. Here are two stories about how older single women have put zip back into their lives.

A Rowland Heights, California, woman who only identified herself as "the matchmaker" shared her story about her widow friend Ann.

Last month, Ann asked "the matchmaker" and a third female friend, both of whom are married, to attend my "Dating after 50" speech at the national AARP Convention in San Diego.

The matchmaker described what happened: "Ann is a beautiful woman with a great personality who has had only one or two dates since the death of her husband nine years ago. She's shy, mainly because we are from the 'old school' of thought, and it's hard to connect with someone or make the first move.

"We enjoyed your presentation and were laughing a great deal. A gentleman two rows in front of us turned sideways to catch our reaction.

"Afterwards, he approached us and started a conversation. He asked if we were married; the two of us replied yes but said Ann wasn't."

The man told the three women his wife had died four years before and he needed to move on and thought the convention was an excellent place to meet someone near his age.

Ann was being shy, so the matchmaker asked, "What about my friend Ann?"

The matchmaker said she was assertive for Ann because in my speech, I told the audience that singles shouldn't let a chance to meet someone pass them by.

"I was waiting for Ann to say something," the man said.

Ann and the man had dates Saturday and Sunday and hit it off. Ann returned home to Orange County and he returned to Michigan, but they've called each other several times. He's coming to see her this month. Who knows beyond that?

The lesson: Although shy, Ann got out among people and met a man interested in her (with friends' help). Had Ann stayed home, it wouldn't have happened.

The second story comes from Jean of Orange, Ca. She wrote: "In January 1997, I was an Orange County single. A friend wanted me to get out among people and meet new friends.

"We attended a Wednesday night Shirts 'n' Skirts Square Dance Club class at the Ebell Woman's Club in Santa Ana. Two available men were assigned to dance with me.

"The following year, I married one of those two men."

Jean became the president of the 43-year-old club.

Jean's story illustrates that positive things can happen when older singles are willing to get out. She added, "Dancing to 'Macho Man' is a healthy activity with cardio benefits."

So, I told Tim in 2002, to encourage his mom to get out and involved in activities.

Before she knows it, she won't be hanging around the house much at all, and thanks to a caring son for encouraging her.

“Get off the couch and out of the house” is a message I have shared with older singles for 23 years, since I first started writing my Finding Love after 50 articles on July 4, 1994. It’s as important now as it was then.

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