Seniors and Sexuality: Enjoying Intimacy and a Healthy Lifestyle
Seniors and Sexuality: Enjoying Intimacy and a Healthy Lifestyle Part 1
Most people cannot imagine seniors as being sexual into retirement age and beyond. For many young people, it’s impossible to associate physical intimacy with older adults. Senior sexuality has been branded either an uncomfortable or unbelievable concept.
There is the belief that seniors are too old to engage in sexual intimacy or they are undesirable to potential mates. It may be news to many, but it’s time we all realized and rejoiced in the fact the seniors are indeed sexually active well into the Third Age.
The Good and Bad News
Yes, it’s true! Seniors are sexually active and enjoying all forms of intimacy. The latest study by the American Association of Retired Persons estimated that 48% of those surveyed aged 45 and over who are single and dating say they have intercourse at least once a week, and 60% of dating singles are satisfied with their sex lives.
Among those surveyed, 40% report having intercourse at least once a month; and 44% report sexual touching and caressing at least once a week (64% if they have a partner).
Two-thirds of those surveyed say they have either a current or recent sexual partner. 22% say they engage in self-stimulation at least once a week. (Sex, Romance and Relationships: AARP Survey of Midlife and Older Adults and 2010).
As encouraging as this revelation is, it also presents cause for concern--individuals 50 and over are at greater risk for contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as genital herpes, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, hepatitis B, and HIV/AIDS.
There are a variety of reasons why older adults are at risk for contracting STIs: lack of education and awareness campaigns targeting older adults, reliance on outdated information, and common misconceptions about seniors’ sexuality on the part of health care providers.
Many seniors have assumptions and beliefs about sexuality that are difficult to change. There is a danger for older adults not to use condoms as a form of safe sex. A common misconception for not using condoms is that they are associated with preventing pregnancy—something that is not a concern when in your 70s or 80s. Many seniors may believe that HIV/AIDS is a disease that affects young people or gay men and could not possibly affect them at their age.
Some older adults are perhaps newly single, widowed or divorced after long term monogamous relationships years of marriage and do not know of the sexual health dangers that exist nowadays. These individuals are seeking new partners and are in a vulnerable situation due to lack of information and awareness of sexually transmitted infections and the facts about HIV/AIDS.
The Viagra craze has contributed a lot to the increase in STIs in older adults also. More seniors are having more sex; however drug companies and government agencies have not provided sufficient education on sexual health risks nor safer sexual practices.
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This material is designed for information purposes only. It should not be used in place of medical advice, instruction and/or treatment. If you have specific questions, please consult your doctor or appropriate health care professional.
The information contained is for informational purposes only and should not to be taken in place of medical consultation. If you have concerns, you should seek professional medical attention.
SageHealth Network is an organization dedicated to promoting sexual health awareness and sexual health education in older adults and care providers.
You can email SageHealth Network here