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For many of them, the event itself was a wake-up call, Loring told TODAY: "A lot of (older) people stereotype themselves," he explained.
"They accept what society tells them, that as along as they've got their social security and digestive aids and recreational activities, that's all they need.
Each pair sits down and gets to know one another, or “date”.
When time is up, the coordinator will ring a bell, blow a whistle, or clink a glass, at which point the participants switch seats to meet the next person.
(Men are harder to get involved, she said.) A restaurant hosts the events, and they're open to the general public, not just members of the senior center. For Phillips, half the fun is watching the seniors open up, as if they're reawakening something that's been inside them all along."The only word I can come up with is transformative," she said.
"But with the influx of baby boomers, and as more people are aging ...
On to the next date."I think people forget that when you get older, and especially if you lose a spouse or partner, you're by yourself a lot," Kim Phillips, the senior citizens services manager at the Portage Senior Center in Portage, Michigan, told TODAY.
"Isolation can be a physical killer."Speed dating typically conjures images of big cities and millennials, but as Phillips is learning, it might also be a unique fit for senior citizens.
And even after the event, the suspense of finding out who has put you on their interest list is thrilling.
Nothing beats the feeling of knowing the date you most enjoyed is into you as well.