Some elderly people meet in a cafe in China to overcome their loneliness

A group of elderly people meet in a cafe in China hoping to find a partner who can break the loneliness they live in.

The Ikea store in Shanghai has become the meeting place for hundreds of older adults hoping to fall in love.

Every Tuesday, these people take over the tables of this shop to meet and chat with other people while eating sandwiches, drinking tea and even drinking a few alcoholic drinks.

However, this custom is not new and dates back more than 10 years. Even if the Swedish company tried to prevent the accumulation of elderly people in its canteen.

“I'm not ashamed to say it, it's not just young people who need love. Even older people,” said Qingqing, a former nursing home director.

These older people use this moment to laugh, talk or simply feel like they can change their routine to escape loneliness.

The truth is that this reflects a social problem that is becoming increasingly common around the world. According to official figures, there are more than 297 million people aged 60 or older in China, and a quarter of them are single.

The loneliness crisis also affects the elderly in China.

The loneliness crisis also affects the elderly in China. Photo: AFP

While multi-generational homes were the norm in the past, today many older people live alone and subsequent generations also have difficulty finding a partner.

A 2016 survey by Renmin University in Beijing confirmed that a quarter of older adults in China feel lonely.

“I'm alone all the time. I feel like life is boring at my age… I've always wanted to have a partner. It is also a way to relax and have fun. Better than looking in the mirror at home,” said Gu Yijun, a lively retired driving instructor.

The 73-year-old man has to travel an hour and a half on public transport to meet other elderly people and is always confident of success.

An alternative to overcome loneliness

The initiative is so popular that dozens of people have attended the meetings, making it difficult to find another location for appointments.

In fact, Ikea management tried to prevent gatherings, increased security, cordoned off tables and put up no-trespassing signs.

But social and media pressure forced the company to give in and allow these older people to have these dates where they are looking for love.

“Ikea has learned about the loneliness of the elderly in this area who need care and interaction, which is why the store offers them a place where they can feel at home and meet friends,” said a company representative.

This Ikea cafeteria isn't the only one in Shanghai where appointments are made for seniors. Some also come to the parks to hold these meetings.

The truth is that the possibilities of finding true love in one place or another are difficult to assess. For example, some say that it is more difficult to find a partner in the Ikea canteen.

Despite this, some of them have successfully dated and managed to find love Overcome loneliness which they faced for several years.

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