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Assisted Living Valentines

Mark Huntsman
By Mark HuntsmanFebruary 13, 2015

Valentine’s Day is focused on romance, but it’s also a welcome opportunity to celebrate romantic love that stands the test of time. As couples age together, they build a love that endures.

For senior couples, the benefits to their relationship provided by living in an assisted living community are often overlooked. But in point of fact, they are crucially important, for not having to keep up a household frees up an enormous amount of time and energy. Couples can focus on spending quality time together, sharing relaxed private moments, but also participating in planned activities within their community that create pleasing memories and bring them closer together. Assisted living can help keep a lifelong romance thriving, romantic memories of a departed loved one alive, as well as help newly single seniors find another turn at love.

Dancing Through the Decades

Al and Dorothy met at the Sky-Hi Dance Club in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1963. “I was wishing for someone who knew how to dance the Shag,” says Dorothy, “and immediately Al walked over and asked me to dance. Boy, did he know how to shag! For me it was love at first sight.”

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And it was for Al, too, who was hopelessly drawn to Dorothy’s love of dancing and her skill out on the dance floor.

They were married just six months later — not that they wanted to wait even that long! Al was in school at Georgia Tech, and they were forced to wait until his semester break. Dorothy was teaching grade school, and she had to plan the wedding 25 miles from her home, with Al’s family 1,000 miles away. Nevertheless, they made it happen. As Dorothy, now 84, puts it,

“We’ve been dancing through life ever since.”

Says Al, now 82, “Dorothy had a bubbly personality and still does today after 60 years.” They live at the Homestead at Hickory View in Washington, MO, where their fellow residents note that after more than six decades together, Dorothy and Al are still very attentive to each other.


Janet, now 79 years old, was not yet 40 when she met her husband at work.  Talk about getting work done. Jan says, “One September day, a coworker said, ‘There’s a fellow up there, Alfred, that would like to date you.’ So he and I went and saw a movie, The Sting, and we started going together.” They got married that December. Jan remembers, “He kept calling. We were so comfortable with each other. I thought, why not.”

Jan and Alfred, in the prime of their lives, set up a couple of conditions for their marriage. Alfred’s condition was about the bed: “We got a dog,” Jan remembers, “that liked to sleep in the bed with me. But Al didn’t like that. The bed was only for us.”

Jan’s condition was also straightforward: no changing diapers. She grew up the eldest of four, and so had vast experience with diaper changing. When she married Alfred, he had five children, but the oldest was already 13. So that meant no diaper changing. Jan remembers her mom laughing, “Well, you got what you wanted.”

Jan smiled and said, “Yeah, but then the grandkids came, and I had to do that again.”

Affectionately nicknamed Alfredo after a memorable trip to Alaska, Alfred passed away eight years ago, but their love still continues on through the children and her memories.

Alfred’s children said to Jan, who now is a resident at Walker Methodist Hazel Ridge in Maplewood, MN, “You took care of Dad, now we’re going to take care of you.”

Jan also remembers how Alfred would send her roses on Valentine’s Day. “If he wasn’t working, we’d go out for dinner. My mom said, ‘That’s all you two do, go out to eat.'” Jan and Alfred’s love story started when she was 40 and continues on as she remembers him today.

A Love that Survives War

Lennie and MariettaOne of the benefits of living in a senior community is the people you meet and stories you hear. If you happen to live at Silvercreek Senior Living in Olive Branch, MS, you may well already have had the pleasure of hearing the story of Lennie and Marietta.

In 1943, Lennie landed a job with the Corps of Engineers. The day before his battalion was being shipped off to North Africa to fight Rommel, Lennie was called into headquarters and told he was not going to Egypt, but instead to Georgetown University, where he’d be tested for a “special project.” When he interviewed with the general in charge of the Manhattan Project, he told the general about himself, after which he was told simply, “This interview is over, you are excused.” Lennie thought that was a standard brushoff. Instead, soon enough he was heading for Los Alamos, New Mexico.

During his time there, Lennie participated in many meetings where Dr. Oppenheimer, science head of the Manhattan Project, presided over discussions about the problems and solutions in the research.

In 1947, he married Marietta. They’re still happily married today! Though he has undergone 12 surgeries related to radiation exposure, his doctors call him a medical marvel. Lennie and Marietta love life at Silvercreek Senior Living, where they enjoy their time together, as well as regular visits from their two children and four grandchildren.

Finding Romance Later in Life

We should all be so fortunate to be able to live out our golden years with our lifelong partner, however, sometimes we sadly lose our loved one early on. Living in an Assisted Living community can help connect single seniors to have another opportunity for love and romance.

Jamison Gosselin, Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Resident Enrichment for Holiday Retirement, shares:

“When seniors lose a spouse, it’s without a doubt heartbreaking, and many believe they’ll never find love again. However, when these same seniors move into senior living communities, they are immersed in activities and events keeping them active, socializing with neighbors, and making new friends. And for many, sparks fly. These friendships grow to love, and romance blossoms later in life.”

In a recent press release, Holiday Retirement shares examples on how it’s never too late for love. Here are just two examples, and you can view more here.

1. John and Beverly, Highland Estates

Love blossoms between friends in Cedar Park, Texas

Beverly first caught John’s eye when she modeled in Highland Estates’ senior fashion show. Beverly was, in turn, wooed by John’s sincere smile and dedication to his church. The two started taking daytrips together, and their affection for one another grew with each long drive around the city of Cedar Park. Beverly and John have now been together for a year and are going strong.

2. Phil and Nina, Lakeview Park

Wedding bells will ring in Fenton, Missouri

When Nina, 85, decided her home required too much upkeep, she moved into a local senior living community. She never expected that just a few weeks later she would meet her beau Phil, 81. What started as a friendship quickly bloomed into love, and the two will be married among fellow Lakeview Park residents and staff in May 2015.

What’s your experience with love that stands the test of time through the decades? Maybe you have senior couples in your family that would thrive in an assisted living communities — or maybe you’re part of one. Please share your stories in the comments below.

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Mark Huntsman
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