Big news – elderly people still enjoy and want sex. And it is good for them. Last year researchers with Australian Centre for Evidence Based Aged Care, made the long overdue statement in the Journal of Medical Ethics that nursing homes should not discourage residents from having sex. Does it surprise you that researchers need to even make this statement? Did you imagine that once you left your parents house, or the dorms, or got rid of roommates that you wouldn’t have to worry about finding a place to have sex in private? Think again.
As the US’s elderly population grows, there will be more and more people faced with the need for caregivers – either moving in with their grown children and families, having in-home care, or moving into residential care facilities. And few of these caregivers are prepared to support an elderly person’s sexuality. Issues of privacy are key. Can the elderly person ask for private time to masturbate? Can they invite a new sexual partner to the home? Do they have freedom to shower or do other self care tasks when they want to, can they ask for help with these tasks on their own schedule? Also issues of access and resources come into play for the elderly. If they can’t drive themselves to the store, who can they ask for help if they need to buy lube or condoms (In fact, the elderly are a growing risk population for HIV and a clear reminder to all of us that safe sex is an ongoing life concern, even when birth control is no longer needed). Even more importantly - would they or their caregivers be comfortable talking about these things with each other?
If you are currently in a young and healthy body, it may be easy to read this and think, “Old people are too tired or sore to want sex, or old people have put sex behind them”. You may be blind to the elderly as sexual beings. I encourage you to think differently about this issue. Sex fulfills many needs in us. Our desire to be desired and to receive physical affection and sexual release outlives many other desires in our life. It is, in many ways, ageless. Someday, if you live long enough, you may reach a point in which your independence starts to wane and you may rely on others for help with your daily living. How do you want to be treated? How do you want your body, your desires, your sexuality to be honored or acknowledged? And thinking of the elderly around you now, how can we do better in honoring them?
Interested in reading more about sex and aging? Follow the link to my article for YourTango on Preparing for a Sexy Old Age. http://www.yourtango.com/experts/melissa-fritchle/preparing-sexy-old-age-start-now