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Seniors Finding Romance Online

Online dating is one popular way to meet a mate, and web-based dating services now abound. But are they safe?

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Thanks to technology, looking for companionship has changed for singles of all ages. Online dating is one popular way to meet a mate, and web-based dating services now abound. But are they safe? Consider advice from the experts and the options that are now available for finding companionship at any age.

Q. I'm a 65-year-old widower who's been learning more this year about communicating online. I've heard people talk about meeting someone online, but how many people actually do that? And is it safe?

We consulted the popular website, an online relationship site with 15 million members in 240 countries, and learned that 14 percent of its members are over the age of 50. On, single adults post profiles with photos and information about themselves, as well as their selected preferences regarding a potential date.

They can then see and read about their most likely matches, often numbering in the hundreds, and paid subscribers can elect to contact the members they find most appealing. Contact between members on the site is done using an anonymous username and not a real e-mail address, and every profile and photo is screened for appropriateness before it is posted to the site.

Whether you're pursuing an Internet love interest or meeting a blind date, offers the following safety tips:

Guard your identity. Even in person, you wouldn't give your number out to just anyone. Don't share your real name, personal phone numbers, place of work, home address or any other identifying information while chatting or e-mailing until you are comfortable doing so.

Use a third-party, anonymous e-mail address. Set up a third-party e-mail address expressly for dating purposes and forward your e-mails there instead of your personal e-mail box. Make sure you turn off any signatures or identifying information in your e-mail.

Trust your gut. Immediately quit corresponding when you feel unsure or threatened.

If you're looking solely for companionship without romantic ramifications, consider hiring a companion. Non-medical companions, like those employed by Home Instead, are screened, bonded and insured. Every effort is made to match a senior's personality with that of his or her CAREGiver.

Companionship is important at any age, so we hope that you'll make every effort to seek out someone with whom you'll enjoy spending your time.

Last revised: February 17, 2011

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