Imagine taking the time-honored tradition of the blind date and combining it with a little bit of manic speed. You get, of course, speed dating.
Now imagine speed dating with senior citizens. It almost sounds like something straight out of an episode of The Golden Girls, but love is something that is good for all ages.
Taking that first step into the dating world after decades of marriage can be scary for many seniors, but Sylvia Davis says dating has come naturally.
"The last three or four years, it's been so much fun being single and dating," said Davis. "I tell you, it'd take a lot to clip my wings about now."
Davis is 65 years young. She was married for 27 years and widowed for the past 17. She's looking for something deeper than love. For her, it's companionship.
"It's just spending time with a human being and connecting and lifting them up and hopefully they'll lift you up," said Davis. "That's what it's all about."
Davis isn't alone. Dozens of singles and couples in their 60's and beyond say finding a mate starts and ends with finding a friend.
Bill Hogan and Von Goff cautiously took the first step to get to know each other almost 15 years ago.
"People ask us if marriage is in the future. We're happy the way things are," said Goff. "He lives in Irmo, I live in Lexington and I don't know, we seem to like it the way it is."
Many older couples are fine just dating. Charles Noll and Eva Tyson are engaged, but marriage isn't in the picture.
"He has his place; I have mine," said Tyson. "He has his kids and I have my kids and we don't want to mix it up."
Same for Guido Vacchio and Billie Taylor who, like many couples, spend Friday nights dancing at the senior center.
"It's better this way," said Vacchio. "I'm 79; she's 77. Why get married? We just enjoy each other."
For many couples, it's as simple as that.
"How many years do you have left when you get our age?" said Taylor. "You might as well enjoy what years you have left."
Research shows that staying socially active later in life can have positive effects on your health including, reducing your risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Michael Wiederman is a psychology professor at Columbia College in South Carolina. He once organized a single's speed dating group. He says seniors may be skeptical about finding love again, but they have more flexibility now to keep trying.
"Later in life when we don't have to worry about raising our children, they're grown and moved on, it's really about meeting my needs and it doesn't have to be with just one person," said Wiederman.
And that's what works for Davis. She knows what she likes. "Everyone is so different, I find a lot that I like in most of them," she said.
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