Recent research on senior sexuality is scant and although older adults are living longer and in better health, other than the advent of medications like Viagra, little has been done in the medical field to address the sexual needs of aging adults. Sex and intimacy are just as important for older adults and can help seniors enjoy the same serotonin and dopamine boosting benefits as younger people, helping to prevent depression and loneliness.
According to a recent Forbes report, there is a distinct lack of information, support and medical training regarding sex and intimacy in older age. Most conversations focus on the decline of physical function; impotence, incontinence, vaginal atrophy or chronic illness with very little discussion about relationships, changes in sexual orientation or emotional intimacy. It’s important to talk with your doctor openly about any changes or concerns regarding intimacy and sexuality.
With a surge in the number of sexually transmitted diseases reported in assisted living facilities, more attention has been paid recently to education about sex and intimacy in older age in these settings. In the greater community, couples and sexual counselling is largely reserved for wealthy and well-education seniors. Integrating discussion about sexuality and intimacy into regular health screenings is an important step in treating the individual more holistically.
Until our culture puts ageism on the back burner and accepts that seniors continue to have and enjoy sex, the discussion (and research) about healthy sexuality among older adults will be marginalized. In the meanwhile, you can read more about intimacy and relationships by following this link to psychologist and author Harriet Lerner’s blog in Psychology Today.
Enjoy Valentine’s Day; whether it’s celebrating with a significant other, practicing some much-need self-care or spending time with friends and family. A small act of kindness can help spread the love we all deserve.