The thought that online dating may be something used only by younger generations may now be a thing of the past.
Recent data has shown that seniors are starting to embrace the use of technology nearly as much as millennials when it comes to finding dates.
Stitch, an online community for people over the age of 50, was launched in 2014 and is headquartered in Sydney, Australia. The site offers three types of memberships: basic, community and community+. The basic membership is free, the community membership costs $60 and the community+ type, which includes membership of the Stitch community and allows additional profile browsing, starts at $15 per month. Currently, Dowling said, it has 150,000 members.
Stitch’s purpose is to navigate members through the problem of social isolation and loneliness that people tend to face in later years while there’s a growing acceptance that social connection is “hugely important” as people age, Dowling said. According to a meta-analysis by the BMJ, people who suffer from loneliness or poor social relationships have a 32 percent increased risk of stroke and a 29 percent increased risk of coronary heart disease.
Dowling said lonely people over the age of 60 can see the same health effects as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Upon Stitch's launch in Phoenix, Arizona, in 2014, 82 percent of its members identified as being lonely. After interacting on Stitch, only three months later, that number was cut in half and physical activity increased by 40 percent.
“Socially connected seniors are more likely to get out and be physically active,” Dowling said. “We really need to involve other people in what we’re doing. It transforms happiness.”
While Stitch is not a dating app, Dowling offered advice for aging individuals who are interested in getting back out into the dating field and potentially finding love.
“Don’t be so focused on the outcome that you lose sight of the process,” he said. “Take it slowly. Give yourself the opportunity to meet lots of people in different environments that are fun and not stressful. Put yourself out there. Just let it happen."
This story originally said Stitch had 1,000 users. It has been updated to say that Stitch has 150,000 users. It also clarifies that Stitch is not a dating app.