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At St. Andrew Estates in Boca Raton, Fla., older male dancing enthusiasts as well as volunteers from a local college fraternity were brought in to take the ladies for a spin on the dance floor, and give them the company for which they have been searching.
"I just enjoy being with the young people," said 86-year-old resident Shirley Fogwell. "The kids who come in here are wonderful kids."
The volunteers, college students from Florida Atlantic University, also said they got a lot out of the experience, even though many aren't expert dancers.
"The older ladies were leading me on the dance floor and teaching me how to dance," said Eric Lampe. "I feel a lot of love right now."
"It means a lot," said T.J. Wilson, another volunteer. "It puts a smile on my face to see them smile."
Volunteer Dancing Partners Make Valentine's Day Better for Residents
With so few men in the retirement home, it has become difficult for the women to meet anyone with whom to have a lasting relationship. Valentine's Day can be especially hard on the residents, who are thinking of their deceased loved ones.
"We fell in love in ninth grade and we married when we were 23 years old," said Fogwell, remembering her late husband. "It's just a day of memories really, when you get to be my age you live on memories."
Dancing with a suitor helps them have fun and gain some confidence.
"I enjoy it and I appreciate it very much that they spend time with us," said resident Aurora Gill. "Especially when you don't have a partner and you love to dance, it's really nice to have someone to dance with."
Women Outnumber Men in Nursing Homes
Women outnumber men 3-to-1 in nursing homes in the United States, mostly because they are living longer and are less likely to live alone. In the chain that includes St. Andrew Estates, 70 percent of the roughly 9,000 residents are female.
The volunteers have made the ladies very happy to celebrate the holiday.
"I am very lucky," said Fogwell. "I am very lucky."