Sep 28, 2023 - Things to Do

Iowa native Gerry Turner takes center stage on "The Golden Bachelor"

Gerry Turner and a poodle

Photo: Courtesy of The Bachelor/ABC

America's favorite dating reality show "The Bachelor" launches a new spin-off tonight featuring older adults called "The Golden Bachelor."

Driving the news: Iowa native Gerry Turner, 72, is the star of the show. He's seeking a second chance at love after his wife died from a sudden illness in 2017.

  • Turner, who previously lived in Davenport, will flirt, date and visit "fantasy suites" as 22 women in their 60s-70s court him.
  • He now lives in Indiana and was not made available for comment.

Why it matters: The show puts older adults dating on prime-time television.

  • "We need to be able to normalize looking for a partner or looking for intimacy at any age," Nancy Morrow-Howell, a professor specializing in aging at Washington University in St. Louis, tells Axios.

By the numbers: Among Americans over 75, 58% of women and 28% of men have experienced the death of a spouse in their lifetime, according to the U.S. Census Bureau — making this stage of life particularly difficult for older adults

  • Widowhood is especially common for older women because of their longer life expectancies.

State of play: Barriers for older adults seeking romantic partners include shrinking social circles and medical conditions that can challenge the "normal picture of a sexual relationship," Morrow-Howell says.

Yes, but: Society has reached a better point where we can acknowledge older people as "sexual beings," she says, including acknowledging intimacy goes beyond sex.

  • There are also more opportunities for older adults to "re-partner" later in life if they lose a spouse, she says. About 14% of adults ages 60-69 say they've used an online dating app, according to Pew Research Center.

What they're saying: "Older adults are just people that have gotten older and as much as anybody, want intimacy and want a companion and want somebody that they can count on when they're sick," Morrow-Howell says."Who doesn't?"

How to watch: "The Golden Bachelor" airs tonight on ABC at 7pm.

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