Thursday, 26 March 2015

Can You Trust Online Health Information?

Or, for that matter, any other kind of information? There are some general rules of thumb that anyone with even minimal critical thinking skills probably uses:

Who is doing the writing? What are his/her credentials? (If there is no author name AND link to the author's bio, reject it.)

Who sponsors or owns the website? That is, who pays the bills to keep it running and updated? (For health information, a commercial enterprise or an individual is a yellow alert. Check further.)

How is the information sourced? (These could be links to research material or not. At good health sites, often the physician writing the article is the expert.)

Who, if any, are the advertisers and what is the physical relationship on the pages to the stories? (Nothing wrong with advertising to help keep the doors open but if, for example, an ad for a prescription drug is placed next to an article about the condition or disease it treats, alarm bells should go off.)

Does it pass the smell test? (If a health information website is selling miracle cures or a one-pill-cures-all nostrum, leave.)

Those are just a few tests and you probably know them.

About a week ago, the National Institute on Aging (NIA), one of the institutes and centers of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), published what they call an Age Page with guidelines on how to tell if health information online is reliable.

It is a useful checklist, as far as it goes. They suggest some of the same items I do (above) along with reminders to check for privacy protections and suggest that health sites of the federal government, medical schools and large professional or non-profits are the most reliable.

I don't agree that those are the only trustworthy health websites and until I find out otherwise, I would question “large professional and non-profits” for an agenda of their own.

Another requirement for a trustworthy site to me and to the NIA is dated articles.

An amazing number of websites don't date their stories which, aside from the headline, is the first thing I look for. Then (if it's not just a silly website for vegging out to cat videos) I check for an author name and if all three are present, I read. If one is missing, I leave.)

Whether it is news or any other kind of information, it cannot be assessed without knowing when it was written. That doesn't mean older dates make information useless (depends on the topic) but you will think differently about a story on, for example, nutrition if it was written before the newest research on salt and sugar intake began circulating.

Dating articles is crucial and I rank it with misspellings and poor grammar as an instant alert to suspect material. For me, every page of a website must have a published date.

As I was beginning to prepare this blog post and although I am reasonably familiar with NIA website, I checked the About Page, probably for the first time. No date. Plus, it states that the 65-plus population of the United States is 39 million. That seemed off to me, and it is.

I checked with the U.S. Census Bureau and the most recent semi-annual estimate, from last July, was 44.7 million; it hasn't been 39 million since before 2010.

You could say a undated About Page is unimportant but it's often the first page newcomers read and out-of-date information is a big red flag calling an entire website into question.

Does that mean I believe the NIA website is dubious? Absolutely not. They produce an large amount of good health information (even if you do need to wade through a lot of professional material not intended for consumers like you and me).

And all the health and medical stories I checked include dates, author names and links to their bios. I've not used this website frequently but I've bookmarked it now although I am partial, as a first but not only stop for general information, to the non-governmental WebMD.

Here is the webpage version of the NIA guide to trusting online health information. The PDF version is here.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Joyce Benedict: Spring Whispers

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Comments (17) | Permalink | Email this post

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Driving While Old

Whenever there is an auto accident involving an elder driver, there are hysterical calls to snatch licenses from people when they turn 65.

What makes me laugh (ruefully) is that U.S. elected officials are eager to raise retirement age for Social Security and eligibility for Medicare because, they say, we are healthier in old age than past generations so we should work longer. But apparently, for some of them, that doesn't mean we are healthy enough to drive.

Not necessarily, say the people who track driving statistics for a living at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an agency of the Department of Transportation. They tell us health matters more than age.

And that tells me that unlike elected representatives, the NHTSA is doing its homework and knows that people manifest negative signs of ageing at dramatically different rates. In some cases, a 50-year-old is too debilitated to drive; in others, a 90-year-old is capable; with all the variations in between.

Here are some recent statistics about teen drivers and elder drivers from the Insurance Information Institute website. First, teens:

”Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 15- to 20-year olds, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

“In 2012, 1,875 drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 died in motor vehicle crashes and an additional 184,000 young drivers were injured, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.”

And here are some similar numbers for elder drivers from the same source:

”In 2011, there were 35 million licensed drivers age 65 and over according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“5,560 people age 65 and older were killed and 214,000 were injured in traffic crashes in 2012.

“In 2012 drivers age 65 and older accounted for 17 percent of all traffic fatalities.

Of course, what's missing from these numbers is information on who is at fault for the accidents and their ages.

Even so, a study reported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety a year ago indicates that driving is becoming safer in all age groups:

”At the beginning of the study period, drivers 80 and older had by far the highest fatal crash rate, at nearly twice the rate of drivers ages 35-54 and 70-74. By 2012, the fatal crash involvement rate for drivers 80 and older improved to 1.4 times the rate of the other two age groups.

"'Older drivers are not only less likely to crash in recent years, they also are sharing in the benefits of newer and safer vehicles. It also helps that older people in general are more fit than in years past, with better access to emergency services and health care,' McCartt says.”

Also, elder drivers tend to self-police their capabilities which younger people may not. Here is a chart showing conditions under which men and women age 65 and older avoid driving:


I've been avoiding night driving since I first got my license at age 16. I never have been able to drive confidently with car lights from the opposite direction blinding me. And nowadays, I'm not fond if highways at any time of day.

None of this means that one day, some of us won't need to turn in our car keys for our own safety and that of everyone else. And yes, it is frightening to contemplate losing the independence cars provide especially for those of us who do not live in cities with good public transportation.

In the past when I've written about elders and driving, the reasons we might have difficulties have been vague – reaction times slow, vision fades, etc., but nothing specific.

Recently, however, I ran across some short videos from the NHTSA about how specific health conditions can affect driving quality. Here is the general overview video:

As I said at the top, it is one's health that matters more in regard to driving than age. Here are links to other short videos with information about driving and specific medical conditions most commonly seen in elders.

Alzheimer's disease
Parkinson's disease
Sleep Apnea
Vision Disorders
Severe Arthritis

In addition to these links and the others above, the National Institutes of Health website has a large, useful section on elder driving. And the Centers for Disease Control has a good fact sheet about elder drivers.

Not every old person will need to stop driving but I believe we all have a responsibility to monitor ourselves as the years go by and make plans for alternatives to driving before they become critical.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marc Leavitt: Packing It In at 75

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Comments (17) | Permalink | Email this post

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Yes, Another Elder Online Dating Post – Part 3 (Unplanned)

Yesterday's post, Part 2 of this series, was supposed to be the end of it. But two pertinent things happened that make it worth extending for a day – especially because I think the topic of elder dating deserves a bit more depth and humor than my experience gave it.

Over several years, I have accumulated a modest collection of DVDs about old age. A few are documentaries but what I am more interested in are dramas, in how filmmakers approach the subject and how well they carry through either in interpretation of what I already know or enlightening me anew.

Sunday I rewatched a Peter O'Toole movie from 2006, Venus. O'Toole plays Maurice, a London actor in the twilight of his years who falls for Jessie, a pretty enough but slovenly, education-impaired 20-something from the provinces sent by her family to care for Maurice's declining friend, Ian.

As A.O. Scott observed in his New York Times review, the movie provided the filmmakers with a “rare opportunity to show how complicated, how impetuous, how alive older people can be.”

And so O'Toole/Maurice is. His desire for Jessie (whom he renames Venus after his favorite painting) arrived unexpectedly, late in life after his career and fame have waned. A diagnosis of cancer shadows his attraction for the young women but not the joy she brings him as he shows her around his London, showering her with gifts and his longing.

The film is beautifully written, magnificently acted, a poignant meditation on old age, desire and love of living. David Ansen described it well at the time in Newsweek: “A heartbreaking comedy that is simultaneously funny and sad, raunchy and sweet, funky and elegiac.”

Here is the original trailer:

Venus is available to stream on Netflix and can also be found to stream, rent or purchase at Amazon, Itunes, YouTube, Google Play and other venues.

O'Toole received a slew of best actor nominations for Venus including the U.S. Academy Awards. He died in 2013, leaving us with a library of great films portrayals that will always be there for us to watch again.

My second find turned up yesterday. I don't remember from whence (you know how it goes clicking around the web). This is an entirely different mood and is, unlike O'Toole's movie, specifically about elder dating.

First you need to know about Australia's annual Tropfest, said to be the world's largest festival for short films. It began in 1993 and now involves venues in 33 countries, according to Wikipedia.

This little film, titled Makeover, won second place at the 2014 Tropfest. Even though you, like me, will probably figure out what's coming, that doesn't make it any less funny and wonderful.

Elder Dating Part 1
Elder Dating Part 2

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Henry Lowenstern: TV Baseball

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Comments (10) | Permalink | Email this post

Monday, 23 March 2015

I Flunked Elder Online Dating – Part 2

As I reported at the end of Part 1, I was flattered to receive the first response to my profile and photo within about five minutes of posting them to and OurTime: “Great profile,” it read. “I'd love to hear from you.”

In less than another five minutes, three or four more arrived with, word for word, the same message.

So much for preening over my scintillating prose and gorgeous photo. Obviously, there are canned responses users can choose by checking a box. Hey, fellas. I made a reasonably good attempt to write a profile that would give you a small idea of what interests me. Couldn't you do the same?

Apparently not. Over the length of this experiment (less than two weeks), other canned responses arrived including “I like your photo” and “I saved you as a favorite.” Again and again and again those same messages and nothing more.

I tried to follow the attached links (not as easy as it should be) to find out about these guys who may or may not have wanted to hear from me.

One was 27 from North Carolina. (Recall that I'm in Oregon, age 73.) Another was 43 from Texas. A third said he was was 49 in Indiana and the fourth was in his late 60s, lived in Oregon but in a town that is 150 miles away. Come on. Why would you think I would drive that far for a coffee date?

At this point I didn't know if these men were idiots or if the services were broken.

It got worse. Every day each of the services sent messages, the most frequent being: “We have 12 (or however many) matches for you.”

Nowhere in those emails or on the websites could I find an explanation of what a “match” is – a fairly important question since the majority of the matches from one service lived in other states and covered a 40-year age spectrum.

This, of course, led to my confusion about how to tell the difference between a response from a living, breathing human and an algorithm. I still don't know.

When I clicked the link in the “match email” from one service, the website informed me that I had to pay a fee to see the names and profiles of the matches.

Uh, no thank you. Moving right along...

In the 10 days I could tolerate this experiment, among the 70 or 80 messages and “matches,” there were two men near my age who lived in my vicinity and responded with what seemed to be real messages. Sort of.

“Let's meet for coffee in (name of nearby town)” wrote one for three or four days in succession even though I had clicked the “no thank you” button.

The other, who said he was retired, wrote a dozen excruciatingly long and detailed paragraphs about his former middle-management career, bad spelling and poor grammar included.

In my own searches around the sites for men in my age range who live close enough that it would not be a trek if we wanted to meet, there was not a single one.

Certainly my genuine disinterest contributed to the difficulty. First, I clicked past anyone who listed a religion; that eliminated well more than half. I also ditched the ones who hadn't bothered to comb their hair or trim a beard for the photo; you'd be surprised how many unkempt old men there are on these websites.

A large number of those who remained mentioned they are hunters. Uh, no guns around if I'm doing the choosing. And as much as I like the Oregon coast, it's a two-hour drive from here so we wouldn't be doing much walking hand-in-hand at sunset, fellas. Certainly you could come up with something better than that.

Oh, and almost all profiles I read of men in my age range assured me they are “young at heart” or “look younger than their years.” One even specified that he looks six years younger than his age. Is that so? Exactly?

What I did not see even once was a mention of books, movies, music or even food and wine.

You can accuse me of being inflexible and you might even be correct. I just see it as flunking internet dating which isn't much of a minus in life.

This was one of the hardest things – probably the hardest - I have done for this blog in all the 10 years I've been writing it and not because I didn't really want a date.

It is because these were the worst designed, most poorly built websites I have visited that are not crappy click-bait sites.

But actually, they ARE crappy click-bait sites with ugly advertising plastered all over; no attempt at attractive or usable design; no organization; links that appear to be one thing but lead only to to pop-ups demanding more money for different services; and the need to navigate through half a dozen of such pages before getting to where you thought you were going but have now forgotten.

And you know for sure you are on a cheap-jack, untrustworthy website when you cannot find a way to cancel membership.

I had to use Google to search the web for instructions on how to unsubscribe from OurTime so I would not be charged for another month. Even with help, it was difficult.

It wasn't much easier on POF. Although they didn't have my credit card information so withdrawing was not as crucial, my account couldn't be deleted until I was forced to answer a battery of questions about why I wanted to leave, how many dates I'd had, whether I'd gotten married, etc. etc.

There's that old saying about getting what you pay for meaning, of course, that free won't get you much. But the better website of these two (which is not an endorsement) was the free one, POF.

Yes, there were constant popups hawking me to pay for an upgrade and/or additional services and the navigation didn't make much sense. But those things are wrong with the other, paid service too.

Bunches of commenters on Part 1 of this series said they met their spouses on such internet dating sites so I suppose I am the outlier. Or maybe not. Most said you've been married now for many years so perhaps the websites were better then.

Me? I'm done. The experience on these sites is embarrassingly bad, the websites are unattractive, unwieldy and unprofessional, and I wonder if that is reflected in the quality of users they get – the ones I saw were far from interesting, let alone impressive enough to bother with.

Or maybe, as I've heard from single women of all ages all my life, it's just that the good ones are taken.

Overall, I'm glad I'm not looking for a mate or even a date.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mickey Rogers: Colonoscopy

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Comments (35) | Permalink | Email this post

Sunday, 22 March 2015

ELDER MUSIC: Jerusalem

Tibbles1SM100x130This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.


Poor old Jerusalem, having three world-wide religions fighting over it – killing, maiming, raping, torturing, destroying, slaughtering all in the name of peace and love.

I can't help but feel sorry for its citizens (except those who are complicit in the above). That's all I'll say. The music, I hope, will go just a tiny way to ameliorate the situation.

There's no better way to start this column than with the great ODETTA.


I imagine most readers know about Odetta. If by chance you don't, check her out – she's far too important for me to gloss over in a paragraph or two. She needs a full column. One day. She performs O Jerusalem.

♫ Odetta - O Jerusalem

SHAWN COLVIN got into music by listening to her dad's record.

Shawn Colvin

Since then she's played with many of the artists she listened to as a kiddie, and younger artists are lining up to play with her these days. Her contribution to today's topic is called American Jerusalem.

♫ Shawn Colvin - American Jerusalem

I'm surprised nobody has made a film about CARLO GESUALDO, who was a composer of considerable facility.


Carlo was a minor prince of some minor area in southern Italy in the 16th century who married his first cousin (a lot of that going on back then).

She started an affair with a duke and managed to keep it secret for quite a while until one day Carlo came home and found Donna Maria and Fabrizio (for those were their names) at it in the marital bed.

Well, Carlo ran them through with his sword (a large number of times apparently), and he shot the duke as well. He then left their mutilated bodies in front of the palace for all to see.

The authorities couldn't do a thing about it 'coz he was a prince (hmmm), however, Donna Maria's and Fabrizio's families weren't going to let the matter rest.

Carlo then bumped off his father-in-law when he came after him. Some say that he also murdered his son because he thought that the duke might be the father. He then hired a whole bunch of bodyguards and hightailed it out of town.

He settled in Ferrara and married again (brave woman) and continued composing – he hired singers and musicians to play his compositions. After a few years, he returned to his castle in his hometown (I guess the hue and cry must have died down, although he still had his bodyguards) and carried on creating music (more hired folks – he must have been worth a bit).

Carlo became estranged from his new(ish) wife who claimed he abused her and she tried to get a divorce. When that failed she left town and went to live with her brother.

According to one biographer, "She seems to have been a very virtuous lady, for there is no record of his having killed her." He's referring to Carlo, of course, not the brother.

Later Carlo suffered severe depression and he started paying his servants to beat him daily as a penance (they probably would have done it for nothing) and that continued for the rest of his life.

In spite of all the above, he composed some of the most beautiful music ever written. This is Venit lumen tuum Jerusalem (Your light has come, Jerusalem).

♫ Gesualdo - Venit lumen tuum Jerusalem

I'm a bit surprised that there were very few songs about Jerusalem in my gospel music records. Even the great Mahalia had only one (in my collection, although she may have recorded more). This is the best of the songs I found. It's by SOUTHERN JUBILEES.

Southern Jubilees

I think that's a picture of the group. The track I selected was on a compilation album and there was no information about them. There seem to several groups with the same or similar names so I won't say anything in case I get it wrong.

Here they are with There's a Man in Jerusalem.

♫ The Southern Jubilees - There's A Man In Jerusalem

J.S. BACH composed only one cantata that specifically references Jerusalem. That's rather a surprise as he often wrote several on the same theme.

JS Bach

Anyway, J.S. wrote this for the change of council (or Ratswechsel) in Leipzig where he was living at the time. This isn't the only one he produced for this purpose; there are four others that do the same thing but none of them mention Jerusalem.

It's the cantata BWV 119, Preise Jerusalem, den Herrn (Praise the Lord, o Jerusalem), the first movement.

♫ JS Bach - Preise Jerusalem, den Herrn BWV 119 (1)

I think DON MCLEAN is being extremely optimistic with his song.

Don McLean

It's from an album called "Believers" so that may be why. I don't know about the all roads leading to Jerusalem, as he sings in the song; I thought that was Rome, a city I'd much rather visit. Don's song is called Jerusalem.

♫ Don McLean - Jerusalem

The NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND's contribution is from the second of their interesting experiments of bringing old country artists together with rock musicians and younger country performers.

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

These were all a resounding success and they were called "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," named after the Carter Family song. Indeed, Maybelle Carter was on the first of these and her daughters June, Anita and Helen were on the second one, from which this song is taken.

There are no Carters on the track, though, which is called Don't You Hear Jerusalem Moan.

♫ Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - Don't You Hear Jerusalem Moan

STEVE EARLE is multi-talented.

Steve Earle

Besides being a musician and songwriter of note, he's acted in films and television, he's written a novel, a bunch of short stories and a play. He's also been married seven times (twice to the same woman) and he's a political activist for causes with which most of the readers would agree.

Oh, he sings a bit too, and here he does just that on Jerusalem.

♫ Steve Earle - Jerusalem

Back in 1804, William Blake wrote a poem called "And did those feet in ancient time.” The composer Hubert Parry later wrote some music for this poem and called it the more manageable Jerusalem.

It was instantly popular and I'll say is pretty stirring even though I'm not English (for it is about England in spite of its title).

It's usually performed as a choral work but today it's sung as a solo by the opera singer LESLEY GARRETT.

Lesley Garrett

Well, sort of solo. It sounds to me as if they brought in a rock & roll drummer to accompany her along with the choir.

♫ Lesley Garrett - Jerusalem

I'm not surprised that DAVID OLNEY has the best song about the city.

David Olney

He has a knack of hitting the essence of a song spot on. He does so in this one, Jerusalem Tomorrow.

♫ David Olney - Jerusalem Tomorrow

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Comments (4) | Permalink | Email this post

Saturday, 21 March 2015



As you know, Larry Wilmore has taken over the Comedy Central spot at 11:30PM formerly held by Stephen Colbert who is preparing to step into David Letterman's position at CBS-TV in the fall.

Recently, Steve Garfield alerted me to an interview with Wilmore in The New York Times where one of the questions was this:

”Do you worry about the fact that there’s a lot of bias in television against old people? You’re 55, and part of your job is to get these younger viewers.”

I'm not not sure whether I'm pleased or irritated that the interviewer, Jim Rutenberg, so easily admitted to and accepts media ageism. Here is Larry Wilmore's response:

”I’m 53. Thanks for making me older. And I don’t look at it like that. I did a lot of college appearances over the last years when I was on The Daily Show, and I have always done really well at colleges.

“The thing that I’ve gotten from the students is they are into authenticity — not really age. They love Jon, and he’s a year younger than me.”

If that turns out to be generally so for the latest generation graduating from college, it could change attitudes toward old people for the better. You can read the rest of the interview here.


Perhaps I have read about goshawks in the distant past but it is not a bird or even word that has turned up on my radar probably for decades. Until now.

Goshawks seem to be having their 15 minutes of fame.

HisforHawkMacDonaldFirst, a new book from England, H is for Hawk, is getting a lot of attention and prizes. It recounts how the writer, Helen MacDonald, dealt with the grief at her father's sudden death by training this kind of fierce predator in the manner described by author T.H. White in his 1951 book, The Goshawk.

I haven't read either one and in fact, they both came to my attention only after I found this video online. It is a New York Times science video about how goshawks hunt. The researchers were able to work out the birds' technique by fitting one with a helmet cam.


As much as I admire John Oliver and the excellence of the video essays on his weekly HBO program, Last Week Tonight, I almost thought I would skip this one from last Sunday.

It is about the current NCAA basketball March Madness of which I have so much disinterest that I'm irritated it is reported as “news.” But my admiration for Oliver won out and I am not sorry.

College basketball, I learned, is a billion dollar business with coaches paid in the range of Wall Street one percenters and zero pay for the athletes because, those who reap the million-dollar salaries tell us, they must remain amateurs.

Some of those kids go hungry. Their “education” is a sham. And if they are injured, they lose their scholarships and have no health coverage. I sort of knew about all this but not in any kind of detail as Oliver supplies. It is a shocking report.


I think this debate must have been going on since the invention of toilet paper:


However, a recent report about the original patent for perforated toilet paper appears to resolve the issue once and for all.

Are you an under or over enthusiast?


And just because I feel contrarian about it, here is the internet's Le Chat Noir, Henri, considering the Blight of Spring.


I've tried not to bore you too often on Saturdays with my deep fascination with 3D printing but I found an amazing video about its medical developments I had intended to post here.

However, the code was wonky so I looked around and surprise! I found an even more interesting video about medical 3D printing. It is astonishing how far this technology has come and how many different uses are being devised.

This video is seven months old but medical 3D printing is developing so quickly there are bound to be even more breathtaking advances already.


Trudi Kappel, who contributes terrific stories at The Elder Storytelling Place, emailed this video about Ida Pieracci. Generally, I don't like stories of old people doing extreme sports. They usually imply that every elder who doesn't climb Mt. Everest is failing old age.

But Ida, now 102, isn't doing that. She plays golf. As she has done all her life. And what is important about this modest, little video is to know that people of great age are not, by default, sick and dependent just because they are not bungee jumping.

Take a look:


Picture this: I'm set up in bed, as usual early on Sunday morning. There is freshly made coffee at my side, Ollie the cat is curled up at my feet, Steve Kornacki's on the tube discussing the past week's politics, my laptop is on a bed table so I can catch up with email while I listen to Steve.

A few clicks of the mouse take me to the video I'm about to show you. It's amusing for awhile. I'm thinking it might be good for the final, animal item in an upcoming Interesting Stuff post when BAM! Something so funny happens it takes my complete concentration not to spew coffee all over the laptop.

You have been warned.

Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” in the upper left corner of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog IF you include the name of the blog and its .

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Comments (11) | Permalink | Email this post

Friday, 20 March 2015

I Flunked Elder Online Dating – Part 1

There are certain elder topics that are difficult for this blog because I have no personal experience. I can imagine but I don't really bring anything useful to the party.

Never having been a mother, I'm not much good at considering relationships with adult children and grandchildren. So I don't. Having been divorced since 1971, I can't contribute intelligently, for example, to a conversation about losing a spouse of many decades. So I don't do that either.

But there is one, it occurred to me about a month ago, for which I could do some personal research: online dating in old age.

Before moving forward with the idea, I spoke with a young friend who has some professional experience with dating websites. She suggested which ones would best suit an oldie like me and provide some variety for my report to you.

She warned me to create a new email address; to not use my own. And to reveal only my first name. The online dating business, she said, is fraught with lies and scammers and even with users who are sincerely looking for a match, it is not uncommon for them to post stock photos.

I laughed at that. One question I'd had was about whether it would be be ethically questionable for me to sign up since I am not interested in dating, just in seeing how it goes. I stopped worrying.

The three services we chose were because it is the largest and most well-known; because it is especially for people 50 and older (owned by; and Plenty of Fish ( because it is (mostly) free.

I created my new address at a free web-based email site with a name that bears no resemblance to my own. Then I started signing up – POF and OurTime first.

It was a lengthy process. Besides the usual sign-up information we are asked for anywhere on the internet, there was personal information to add, preferences to choose from and lengthy “personality tests.” It took me way too long to figure out the last category was not required.

Of course, too, I had to write a profile of myself and a paragraph about the kind of person I was looking for. Now there's a dilemma.

I wasn't really looking for anyone and I have no idea how to describe myself that would provoke responses. Obviously, the only way to play it was to pretend that I really wanted a date but that didn't help with the profile.

Whatever the reputation of the online dating business, I decided to be completely honest except that there would be no mention of this blog. If, by chance, I met someone in person who was genuine, I would explain that part of my life when the time came. For better or worse, here is the profile I went with:

”Former television producer, journalist, internet developer now retired. Interested in good books, good food and wine, the arts, politics, good conversation who is endlessly curious about growing old. Former New Yorker who passionately wishes she were still there. Oh well – stuff happens.

"You're smart, well read, curious about life in general and whatever it is that fascinates you. You're somewhere near my age (73), not afraid of growing old and comfortable in your own skin.”

2015-02-25Hat150Fairly bland but after two hours of thinking and research (yes, you can find advice online about how to write a successful dating profile), I was too tired to give it more effort. I used this photo that some of you may have seen when I decided to use it on Facebook too.

By the time I finished all the setup at OurTime and POF, the afternoon was shot, my butt was tired from sitting in the desk chair so long and there is only so much, dear readers, I am willing to sacrifice for you. So I ditched the third website,

FYI, here is how pricing of the three shakes out.

POF is mostly free. There is no monthly subscription cost although you pay for such services as receiving alerts when someone reads your profile.

OurTime costs US$19.99 per month and you will be autobilled each successive month unless you remember to turn it off. is the most expensive. It is $41.99 per month if you purchase each month singly. It becomes less expensive if you commit for three months, six month, etc. down to $20.99 per month for one year.

It didn't take long after my profiles at the two sites went live to receive my first response: “Great profile,” it read. “I'd love to hear from you.”

I was flattered until a short time later, three or four other messages arrived with exactly the same wording.

Part 2 is here.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, William Weatherstone: Alzheimer's Finale

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Comments (25) | Permalink | Email this post