Thursday, June 30, 2016

Senior dating issue: dating when a spouse has Alzheimer's

 Part 2 – More On Life and Love after 50 newsletter readers' (Champs') comments on Alzheimer’s and dating

Tom P Blake
Shirley, “I’m a monogamous dame, and do not tolerate ‘playing’ while married, but the Alzheimer’s has a dreadful effect on a family, and especially on the caregiver. Also, adult children who judge are ignorant of what really happens. I’ve had numerous nurses’ aides--because of my disability--and they’ve told me about the impact of the disease on their other patients. Alzheimer's is a living death for caretakers."

Barbara, “I find with great heartache that people can't find it in their heart to want men or women to find some happiness while they are still able to. “My husband was dying of bone cancer and he made me promise to find someone to share the rest of my life with, mattered not kids or kids, but do what was right for me with his blessing.

“So a man and a woman need to be open with each other no matter how the health issue may come about. Kids need to know about this and this is what their parents have decided on, be open-minded folks, there is no right way or wrong way to this situation, give a lot of love to one another and look at what both mom and dad want.”

David, in speaking of the man whose wife has Alzheimer’s, said, “You need to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes before you can self-righteously criticize them. Also, no one who offered an opinion had any understanding of what it’s like to be an isolated caregiver in a hostile environment especially if you still feel young and vibrant enough to move on with your life.

“I think the gentleman ought to be commended for his continuing love and devotion to a wife who is vanishing in front of him and the lady ought to be commended for waiting to build a new relationship and offer support. These two would probably be best served keeping their relationship private and between themselves only until the medical situation resolves itself.”

This ends a thread of discussions on a man who is dating when his wife has Alzheimer's and the frustration his woman friend feels as the other woman.

50 Plus Life Online Newspaper

Friday, June 24, 2016

Alzheimer's and senior dating: Senior dating issues

Alzheimer’s and dating dilemma: A senior dating issue with responses from Tom's On Life and Love After 50 newsletter Champs

By Tom P. Blake

For me, the most rewarding aspect of writing these newsletters is interacting with such an intelligent group of Champs. When I ask for your inputs, your responses are unique, diverse, varied, and often diametric. Most of the time, there are no right or wrong answers, just points-of-view you are willing to share based on the rich life experiences each of you has lived.

Today is the longest newsletter I have ever written. I just felt the topic—Alzheimers and dating--is so complicated and the information provided by Champs so poignant, the length was warranted.

Last week, we wrote about Ruthie, not her true name, age 71, who answered an online dating ad placed by a married man whose wife has Alzheimer’s. The man visits his wife up to three times a day. His stepchildren don’t want to hear about his dating. Ruthie doesn’t like feeling like “Back door Dora,” and wants to visit the wife to judge the situation for herself; she asked for comments.

Well, the comments came in, from more than 25 Champs. Some by email; some on the Finding Love After 50 Facebook page. I can’t begin to do justice to all of the responses in one newsletter, so I will try to isolate the key issues. I hope the information benefits Ruthie and others who are faced with similar situations.

One of our Champs works at a CCRC, which stands for Continuing Care Retirement Community. The services provided go from independent living to memory support to skilled nursing. He said, “I have seen it all here when one spouse’s health takes a dive. 

“Some put the spouse in memory support and stay in the apartment, some put the spouse in memory support and move out, sometimes to another city or even state, deserting that spouse and relying on the staff to take care of that spouse. Some actually divorce the spouse and split up the estate so they will not be financially responsible for that spouse. 

“But, most spouses put the failing spouse in memory support, stay in the apartment and visit. If an outside relationship happens, as it does half the time, the other residents are not critical as long as the healthy spouse keeps on visiting the failing spouse. If the healthy spouse deserts the failing spouse and still stays in the community, they are shunned. There are standards to be met.” 

Wayne said, “Lived it from 2006-2013 when she passed. Promised to never put her in an institution and I kept that promise. That promise did not leave any room in my life to seek someone else.”

The children 

Linda, “I side with the kids. Their mother is still alive and I think this woman is kidding herself thinking he will marry her and stay with her forever. All she has done is shown him that she doesn't mind being the other woman. He will cheat on her just as he has his current wife.”

Liz, “Regarding his wife's children, it is up to him to let them know that this is what he wants (to have love from another woman that his wife can no longer give), and tell them that it is his life to live as he chooses. If this causes alienation from them, then he needs to make the choice between them and Ruthie.

“(I'm guessing it will be too painful to be estranged from the children and he will go on to find another woman who doesn't mind this ‘complicated situation.)

The problem with the children is his problem, not hers. She should stop worrying about what they will think years down the road. Let it go!

The man isn’t wrong

Elizabeth, “The fact that he visits his wife frequently has little bearing on the matter. It shows he is lonely, but also that he is a kind and loving person. His wife is not there for him (presumably) in any way that matters. I see nothing wrong with looking for ways that make one’s life more tolerable. It is up to the woman as to whether she can handle it. His (step) children might feel differently if he were their blood relation.”

Jackie, “I think having both male and female friends is healthy. Just to keep it light and not to take it to the ‘next steps.’ That would be so disrespectful, even if the spouse with dementia did not realize what was going on.”

Joanie, “Poor Ruthie. This is a man who wants his cake and to eat it too! I do understand his dilemma. He will care for and be married to his Alzheimer's wife until she dies (he may die first). He has not prepared his children. Nor his wife. Nor himself. He is just lonely and wants companionship. 
“His concern is for his family and their feelings; his family is his wife and her children. It’s easy for a guy to put an ad in the paper, but how was he prepared to ‘give’ to a new woman? I don't think this man is bad or really doing anything wrong, he is lonely.” 
The man is wrong

Jackie, “OMG.  She may not want to be ‘the other woman’ or ‘back door Dora’ but she is. If her boyfriend has more love to give than his wife can accept, and he wants to utilize that, then he should divorce his wife.  

“He is married. Period. If he wants a girlfriend, he needs to get unmarried. I don't blame his kids for resenting the hell out of her AND him.  He wants a healthy companion, which is certainly understandable, but he doesn't want to feel he is deserting his wife, which is also admirable. But he can't have it both ways.  

“Many years ago, my elderly aunt had terminal cancer. She was lucid and at home, but terminal. Her husband, a retired pastor no less, took a girlfriend and the two of them would go on pastoral visits at hospitals. It devastated his reputation, as it should have.  
I blame Ruthie in part. When you are on a dating site and the guy admits he is still married, what in the world is wrong with you that you would pursue the relationship knowing he was married!

It never ceases to amaze me how some people try to justify their behavior.

Lillian, “I think Ruthie should question a man who is still married and in fact visits his wife regularly; why he is advertising on a singles web site? I understand he may be lonely for a regular companion, but it sounds disingenuous for him to be actively seeking someone.

Judy, “Wow, I see red flags all over! I don't doubt that Ruthie has feelings for this man - but he visits his wife 1-3 times a day - what is he looking for, a replacement? Can he not be alone?”

Ruthie is wrong

Jane,Ruthie needs to grow up or get out! She doesn't have the compassion for what this man and his wife and family need. She sounds extremely self-absorbed. First of all, she answered a profile that states that the man is married, in whatever capacity, he is a married man. The care of his wife is still in his hands, his obligation to her is first and foremost.

“She went in knowing this and now wants to change the playing field. Her biggest concern seems to be how long this wife might live. His stepchildren did not say ‘Do not date’ they said ‘We don't want to hear about it.’ They are going through their own process of dealing with a heartbreaking situation. That should be respected at all costs.

“She wants to meet them? She wants to get her foot in the door and make her presence loud and clear. Very selfish.
“And see his wife? What is she thinking? This is his journey and he has chosen to care well for his wife and respect her and their continuing relationship. The relationship has changed but it is still a relationship.”

Ruthie should not go visit the wife

Sharon: “He should divorce his wife legally, making him free to date. He can continue to visit as a friend. The new woman should not be introduced to her as it might be traumatic.”

Karla, “I kept asking myself, "Why would you want to visit her?" Then, Tom asked the same thing. Maybe it's because she wants to be reassured that the wife is really as ‘far gone’ as he says? He visits her every day, and sometimes 3x a day, so I'm thinking they still have conversations. I might date a man like that for companionship, but I'd keep my options open.”

Mark, “My first thought was, unless the wife is so far gone that she is completely unaware of the identities of the persons involved, it would be cruel to the wife for the new girl friend to participate in the visits. Also unnecessary. If she wants to become known to the children as part of the family, there must be other ways to do it.”

For Ruthie, things are not going to change

Lillian, “This sound like a very high-risk relationship for Ruthie to be in. I do not think she should be expecting to visit his wife and the fact that the children at this point cannot accept her is another huge red flag. There is a very strong chance than once this man's wife dies (and this could be a long time) he will move on to another relationship; one that his kids can accept. They may never accept her, because she is the 'other woman.'

Joanie, “He will make NO CHANGES, so Ruthie has to decide what she wishes to do. Does she want to stay in the background and be the ‘other woman? Have his kids shun her?  And accept the fact that this man WILL NOT make a life with Ruthie until his wife dies. Time, age and her needs are against this! In other words, it is waiting for the wife to die!   
He is just a lonely guy and if Ruthie ends the relationship, he will find some other woman (immediately) who is willing to put up with the second-class life he is offering. He wants to ‘end his own loneliness,’ not contribute to a new woman's life.  On the other hand, there are not many men out there! So the answer to this dilemma really comes down to ‘what does Ruthie want for herself in her own life, what kind of relationship does she want. Is she able to play the second-class waiting game and feel good about it all?"
Crislinn, “Giving someone an ultimatum does not usually end in the giver’s favor. He says he loves her and talks about a future. If she feels the same, can't this be enough for now?

What purpose would it serve for Ruthie to visit his wife? From her comments it seems she feels it may give her a better understanding on how long she needs to wait for the marriage to end in death.

Just continue to enjoy each other now and slowly move into the future. Slowly he may feel comfortable not visiting multiple times a day or even skip a day if you make an overnight trip to another nearby city.

His children are grieving for their mom. She's still here even if she doesn't always know them. That's why it's hard for them to think about their stepdad replacing her. Eventually one of them will be more accepting. Don't do anything. There is no point to it. Just be accepting to the situation. His wife is no threat to your future unless you make it one.

Maria, “I don't think it's our place to judge the man's reaching out on a dating site, frankly, as I can't imagine the loneliness of going through this with a loved one. The woman went into this knowing all the facts. I hope she honors him and his family in what has to transpire in time --- more time than she likes.  

“She would be wise to accept and just give support to the man in the background while he and his family go through a very difficult time. She can do that by being a good friend, respecting the children's emotional trauma that this disease causes within a family--this is their mom after all--she may not be all there, but they are. The man reached out for friendship and she accepted the circumstances--he was honest.  

“I think her complaining is a bit on the selfish side. Loving someone is also honoring the other. My advice is for her to try to step in the shoes of the children and understand their point of view. Going to the home is like pushing herself in before Mom is gone--why would she want to?

“She doesn't sound secure in her relationship with this man at all and that might be her motive to cement the relationship by physically being present at the home. If she can't wait respectfully, it's not love, but neediness.  Maybe she should find love elsewhere in a less complicated situation if she wants to land someone before she gets any older.

Marie, “It's not easy for both Ruthie and this man. They need each other's love and understanding. My sister is in the same situation.  Her husband has been in a home for 4 years now. She has a friend and this friend helps her keep her sanity physically morally and emotionally.  

“Ruthie, if you really love this man, help him get through this difficult journey... he needs not be pressured. Don't worry, everything will fall into place when the time comes.”

Here seems to be the consensus among our Champs:

-Ruthie should not visit the wife in the rest home

-The situation will not change until someone involved dies. Ruthie needs to accept that, and let it be, or get out

-The man should not alienate his stepchildren, and should continue to honor and visit his wife. If he has a friend, that friend and relationship should stay in the background. Remember what the Champ who works in the CCRC said about having a friend, almost half do, but they carry themselves with dignity

Tom’s websites: (website on Victoria Station restaurant chain from the 1970s) (senior travel after 55)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Senior dating issues: Dating when a spouse has Alzheimer's?

Senior dating issues: Dating when a spouse has Alzheimer’s?

by Tom P. Blake

One of the most difficult and controversial senior relationship topics that readers bring up is dating when the spouse of one of the two people has Alzheimer’s.
A Southern California woman wrote, “I am dating a man whose wife has Alzheimer's and is very well cared for in an expensive facility. He visits her daily, sometimes as much as three times a day. They had a 35-year marriage in which he raised her children, and he considers them equally his own.

“Here is my dilemma. I don't doubt that he loved his wife, and still does as much as he can. But on his dating profile (how I met him) he said he has more love to give than his wife can accept. That is kind of awkward wording, but I knew what he was trying to say.
“I do not think he is morally bad for seeking companionship since his wife has been going downhill for five years, and has been in this facility for the past three years. But his children do not like the idea of their father going out with other women. They know that he is, but they have told him, ‘We don't want to hear about it.’
“That puts me in the ‘other-woman’ category.  I feel ‘back door’ and it doesn't feel good. I have never asked to go with him to visit his wife. I find myself feeling resentful about the position this puts me in. I know he is happy with me as he has told me he loves me and often speaks of our future together.

“But I also know that he will always be in touch with his children, who will probably ask at some point if I was ‘dating’ their father while their mother was still alive. I don't want to be a pariah when the day comes when his wife passes away.

“Would it be reasonable or fair of me to tell him that unless I can be part of his life now, i.e., visit his wife in the facility, and not be hidden from his children, I cannot go on this way?

“If I cannot go to the facility, then perhaps his wife is not really ‘that far along after all.’  Maybe she has another 3 or 4 years to go. I am nearly 71 and he will be 76 in two months. I don't want to be ‘back door Dora’ for the next 4 years. Please help me understand my situation better.”

Tom Blake's take on the situation: The man went on a dating site, likely because he is lonely. He did not try to hide that he is married and his wife has Alzheimer's. What he did may not be right, but it is somewhat understandable.
The woman entered this relationship knowing the situation. She should have known she was walking into a minefield. Now, she wants to go visit the wife to see how sick she really is. That is totally wrong and disrespectful. She has no business going there.

Next, she worries about how his step children view her. She’s not going to be able to change that either. Probably ever. After all, the ill woman is their mother.
So, either she accepts the situation the way it is, stays in the background, and stops worrying so much about herself, or she needs to exit the relationship. I find her motives and dilemma to be her problem.


Tom Blake's article on Alzheimer's dating when a spouse as the illness is featured in 3 newspapers: The links to the 3 papers are listed below:

Tom Blake is a Dana Point resident and a former Dana Point businesman who has authored several books on middle-age dating. His latest book can be found online at See his website at (yes, after 60, time rolls on). To comment, email

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

50plus Life: 14 G's of dating for mature adults

Special for 50plus Life                   June 2016 edition

The 14 G’s of dating for mature adults

By Tom P Blake
Seniors often ask me for dating tips. What can they do as they grow older to meet a prospective mate? Here are my 14 G’s for senior dating.

1. Get off couch and out of the house. This advice is always the first I mention. It’s so simple and yet so important

2. Get involved in activities you enjoy where you will meet new people. Unsure of where to go? Check out for a list of clubs and activities in your area. There are thousands of activities across the USA. Granted, some are for the younger set; simply weed out those choices. And the site is free!

3. Go alone to these activities if you have to, if you can’t find a friend or group of friends. Granted, this isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do, but it still beats sitting home alone wishing you were somewhere else

4. Get organized. Don’t wait to plan for upcoming holidays. If you have nowhere to go for July 4th, for example, consider volunteering. Try an activity that makes you feel good; nothing is better than helping others. Plan ahead for other holidays as well. Invite others who have nothing planned to your home for a small potluck dinner party. Start rounding up your single friends now

5. Go out to enrich your life, but not with the sole purpose of seeking a mate. If the only reason you go out is to find someone, you will become discouraged and frustrated because meeting someone may not happen right away. It might not happen at all. But if you go out to broaden your horizons and enjoy new experiences, just getting out is a great accomplishment

6. Get it in gear. Meeting new people, making new friends, and finding a mate at this stage in our lives requires energy and making a concerted effort. It’s like seeking a job in the current economy, which is difficult. The people who are successful work the hardest at networking and putting resumes out there. The same goes for meeting a mate, make the process as important as you would if you were seeking a job

7. Get assertive. Note, I am not saying aggressive, but assertive, there is a big difference. Start conversations with strangers--on a plane, standing in line at the post office or at the bank, waiting for your car to be washed, in line at Starbucks-anywhere there are people waiting and biding time. If you see someone who looks kind, warm or friendly, don’t hesitate to make a simple comment or ask him (or her) a question--how he likes the book he’s reading or the car he’s driving. This tip applies especially to women

8. Gain flexibility. Open your mind to new avenues, new cultures, and new thinking

9. Gain efficiency. Don’t waste time by playing games. Either people are interested in a relationship or they aren’t. If you meet someone who you think might be a potential partner, and the excuses start flowing, or the games begin, move on

10. Gain confidence. Improve your appearance; add exercise to your daily regimen. Eat healthy foods. Take care of yourself. You will have more positive energy, which will make you a more desirable person. Present a positive attitude. A smile is the ticket to making yourself approachable and likeable, both necessary when you are seeking a new mate

11. Grieve and heal before you begin looking for a new mate. If you’ve recently lost a spouse or partner, give it all the time you need. But that doesn’t mean you don’t go out to enrich your life and be involved with new people. That helps to overcome loneliness. Your life is not over, it has just changed

12. Gain knowledge and insight through learning and enjoying new experiences. Go back to school. Take an acting class. Travel

13. Go gray. Remind yourself that being single later in life isn’t so bad, in fact it’s pretty darned good. It gives you the freedom to do and pursue whatever you want

14. Give yourself credit and a pat on the back from time-to-time. After all, you’ve made it this far in life. And, there’s a lot of life ahead to live.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Senior dating issues: Two questions senior singles should ask on a first date

Senior dating issues: Two first date questions to ask

by Tom P Blake
I am impressed with the wisdom of our On Life and Love after 50 newsletter Champs (subscribers--I call them Champs). The most recent example comes from Champ Bob, who was a corporate recruiter.

Bob emailed questions he used in his work that he feels can be also used in the early stages of a relationship to determine whether two people have adequate compatibility to continue dating or not.

Bob said, “As a former corporate recruiter (head hunter, if you will), I heard a simplistic description of the hiring process. It boils down to two questions: ‘What have you got?’ and What do you want?’

“If a candidate can answer those questions, she/he is making progress toward getting into a job that ‘fits’ her/his needs and the needs of the hiring organization.

“Applying those questions to the relationship-building or dating process, the questions become: ‘What can you bring to a relationship?’ and, ‘What do you want from a relationship?

“My sense is if a man and a woman can answer those questions to each other early in the dating process, then informed decisions can be fairly readily made about proceeding or working toward a relationship.

“Some may find this basic model a little too much of the lowest-common-denominator.  However, I have road-tested these questions and achieved results – deciding to pursue a relationship or move on.”

Bob has a point: If two people who have just met—maybe they are even on a first date—can answer those two questions, they can somewhat objectively judge whether there might be enough compatibility that a satisfying relationship could develop.

Bob expanded on the first question when he added that it’s not only what a person can bring to a relationship, but, “What is that person willing to do to make the relationship successful?”

In my 23 years of writing columns, this third question is especially significant. Often, I have had men or women tell me they met someone they liked, who had the qualities they wanted, but that the person wasn’t willing to make enough of a commitment. When that happens, frustration and disappointment inevitably follow. In other words, both people must want to be in a relationship and be willing to work on it together.
Instead of giving advice, ask questions

Another thing Bob learned in his corporate career was what to do when someone—a client, friend, family member, or colleague—asked him for advice. He said he tried to avoid giving advice because doing so was fraught with pitfalls.

Bob’s statement piqued my interest because singles often seek my dating and relationship advice.

He said, “The advice-requester may or may not be giving an accurate picture of all the facts and circumstances, intentionally or unintentionally. Errors of omission can happen because the person cannot or will not admit he or she has contributed to the issue or problem in some way. The person may have a bias, selecting certain facts and leaving out other relevant information. The advice-giver is therefore not in possession of complete information on which to base the advice.

“Instead of giving advice, I had a backpack full of questions to pose to the advice-requester. At the end, he or she would thank me for the ‘advice’ after they had arrived at their own conclusions, solutions, and courses of action. I had not made one statement of advice; I had only asked many questions.”

Bob pointed out that by asking questions, instead of giving advice, he was assigning the responsibility of the problem and the solution to the person seeking the advice.

He said, “What if advice is given and it works absolutely perfectly?  What has the requester learned? Nothing, except to return to the advice-giver the next time a problem arises. A dependency (co-dependency?) has been created.”

He added, “What if advice is given and it crashes and burns, fails miserably? Who is to blame? Why, the advice-giver, of course. ‘You told me to do such and such. I followed your  advice and look where it got me? My relationship is ruined, etc.’”

That comment reminded me why I am not a matchmaker, opting not to fix people up, although I am often asked to do so. Fixing up singles seldom works and then the people are mad at me—the fixer-upper.

Also, Bob is right about people not including both sides of the story when asking for relationship advice. When people ask me, I usually hear only one side of the story. Getting the other side of the story is usually not possible.

In the future, I’ll likely be asking more questions, but knowing myself, I will still give advice. Old habits are hard to break.

Thinking about what Champ Bob has shared today, improving dating and relationships after 50 comes down to clear, honest communication between two people. It is as simple as that; unfortunately, people often make it more complicated.

When I met Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali)

When I met Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali)

On live and love after 50

By Tom P Blake                             June 10, 2016

Today, June 10, 2016, Muhammad Ali was laid to rest. Our country lost a legend. I had the pleasure of meeting him when his name was Cassius Clay. The occasion was the 1960 Rome Olympic Games where he won the light-heavyweight gold medal in boxing.

That summer of 1960, I traveled for 85 days throughout Europe with four other guys. We slept in a VW bus, which we had picked up at the VW factory in Hannover, Germany. We spent the last 17 days of the trip living at a campground outside of Rome, driving into the city each day to take in the Olympic Games.

I was 20, and kept a dairy of the trip. After seeing Cassius Clay box in a preliminary round, I wrote in the diary, “Clay is quite promising,” perhaps the biggest understatement of my life.

The four of us got tickets to the September 5 boxing finals at the Pallazo della Sport and watched along with 16,000 others as Henry Crooke, Wilbert McClure and 18-year-old Cassius Clay won gold medals for the USA.

One of the four men riding in our bus, Mike Natelson, was a swimmer for The University of Michigan. Mike and I had been classmates and swimming teammates at Jackson High School, Jackson, Michigan.

A few of Mike’s University of Michigan teammates were on the USA Olympic swimming team. So, we got to interact with them often at the Rome Olympic Village and at some restaurants near to the Village. After the games were over, if USA team athletes wanted to stay in Europe to travel, they were allowed to sell their tickets on the Pam Am charter back to the USA.

For the four of us, our scheduled return flight was on a KLM 707 from Amsterdam. But, we wanted to stay at the games as long as we could. To drive to Amsterdam would take three days. So, we scrounged our money together and bought four seats on the Olympic charter for $120 a ticket from some of the athletes.

The charter plane was not a jet, but a 4-engine job. It took forever to get to the states. Mike Natelson slept on the floor of the plane a good share of the time. We made a refueling stop in London.

We met Cassius Clay on the charter flight. My memory of him was that he was talking a lot and was very ebullient. He was happy to meet and talk to anybody and everybody on the flight.

My seatmate on the flight was Donna de Verona, a 13-year old swimmer who had made the team as an alternate. In London at the duty free shop, she wanted to buy a bottle of booze for her father as a gift and she asked me what to buy. I told her Beefeater’s Gin. Sadly, she dropped the bottle on the concourse when we got to the states. In the Olympic games four years later, she won two gold medals and became very well known as a sports commentator and athlete.

The scene I remember the most about Clay was when the plane landed in Boston, where we went through customs. Cassius was wearing his gold medal around his neck, as were all the athletes who had won medals were encouraged to do. When he opened his suitcase for the customs agent to inspect it, he put the medal right on the top of his clothes so the agent would see that first. The agent waived him through immediately. As I recall, he raised his fist in triumph as if he had just won a boxing match.

Of course, none of us had any idea of how famous Cassius, who, of course, changed his name to Muhammed Ali, would become or how significant he would be in American history.

Fifty-six years later, I am grateful for having had that experience in my life. 

Tom Blake's websites