With Valentine’s day behind us, romance and sex continue to be alive and well. The baby boomers are getting older and while 60 has become the new 40, and 75 the new 60, healthy sex continues to be a favorite topic. However it may still be a subject that is often ‘under the covers’ and not comfortably discussed. Adult children don’t typically want to hear about the parent’s sexuality and vice versa; however professionals need to be comfortable in asking and answering questions. Some treatments for erectile difficulties and vaginal lubrication may require a physician’s prescription and different infirmities may require some creative positions.
Regardless of your own personal definition of sexuality and what it means for different age groups, it should include an understanding of safe sex and sexually transmitted disease awareness. People often assume that once someone becomes a senior that they also become asexual. This is not the case.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada there has been an increase in the number of HIV positive tests and AIDS diagnoses among older Canadians, now accounting for 15% of the total. The AIDS diagnoses for people over the age of 40 has accounted for the majority of cases since 2000 and in the year 2007 exceeded 60.0% of all reported AIDS diagnoses for the first time.
It is important that discussions are held with people of all ages around safe sex practices regardless of one’s own bias’ associated with senior’s sexuality. Just because someone has dementia, doesn’t mean that they don’t have interest in being sexual. However sexual relationships between residents of retirement/long term care homes who have dementia is another area where better understanding is needed. Staff at long term care homes are not quite sure how to respond to questions regarding sexual activity amongst residents. There are issues in regards to consent, and when participants may be married to others. There is a need for discussion, staff education, and guidelines so that appropriate guidelines and practices can be developed accordingly.
Be safe and be smart about sex- regardless of your age!