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A taboo? Sex and intimacy of senior citizens

As the WHO confirms, sexual health is of great importance to overall health and the wellbeing of individuals and couples. There is no age limit for having sex or being intimate. It is simply natural.

Sexuality is multidimensional and at the same time depends very much on each individual. Obviously while getting older our body changes. A big transformation is the menopause which changes the hormonal balance in women. The vagina can become drier and less elastic which can cause pain during intercourse. And older men can experience problems with their erectility. In addition, the older one gets the higher the chances are that one has to take medicine (e.g. for diabetes, cardiovascular diseases) which sometimes can lessen the degree of desire one experiences.

Ask your medical doctor for professional advice.

But even if sexual desire decreases the need for intimacy, to be touched, to have close emotional contacts, remains. The skin changes and our body is less flexible. However, we can simply adjust to live sexuality while taking into consideration the changes of the body. Maybe the climax was the focus when younger. When one is older feeling the body of someone, smelling the partner and being physically close can be as rewarding. Furthermore, amongst elderly there is mostly less pressure „to perform“ which can also be a relieve. Talk to your partner. Be open and see what you both want. Only that matters.

For residents of a care home sex and intimacy can become a challenge. The topic has to be tackled openly.

If a resident wants a sex toy why not provide it? If two residents fancy each other why not make a room with a double bed available? What does it mean to be highly respectul of the privacy of residents? How does staff assess the ability of residents with dementia to consent to sex? How can staff be protected from sexual advances or attacks of residents? Careworkers have to be comprehensively trained on this subject and also in relation to persons of the LGBTIQ community.

All the current silver LGBTIQ have experienced the time when AIDS/HIV hit the world in the 1980s. Safe Sex should be deeply ingrained in our actions. This also applies when you are older. Use condoms, dental/oral dams, femidomes etc. when having sex. They also protect against other diseases like gonorrhoea, human papillomavirus (can cause cancer) and hepatitis B and C.

Do you speak about sexuality with your doctor? Or is it a taboo, from your side or that of your MD?

One shouldn't feel ashamed. Sexuality and intimacy are integral parts of human nature, at any age. Senior citizens have the same rights to live their life to the fullest. This subject has to be addressed much more openly. Let us all work to make it less of a taboo and in that way help silver fellows, independently if LGBTIQ or heterosexual, can lead a dignified and satisfying life.

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