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Your Healthy Community: Talking about sex with older people nothing to be ashamed of

By By Katie Sciba
July 18, 2014 at 2:18 a.m.


I'm en route to Yosemite National Park. My topic that I set for this article many months ago can be an uncomfortable subject for many folks. I've been driving for 20 hours already. I'm sleep deprived enough to be in a perfect state to be frank about a sensitive subject. Let's talk about geriatric sexuality. Don't worry, there are kids in the car so I'll keep it PG.

In order to be informed on this subject, I asked my sister-in-law, Beth Sciba, who is a nurse practitioner and in the car in front of us to weigh in on this subject. I also found a few research studies that were very interesting.

Here's the low-down. People find it uncomfortable to talk about sex in the older populations in this culture. This includes physicians, other medical personnel and the people in this category.

One way the researchers suggested to improve sexual health with seniors is to be honest and communicate with your doctor if you have questions or concerns.

Health care professionals can help by recognizing that older people may enjoy sex and need to make sure they are available to help their patients in this area regardless of age.

People 65 and older have problems with sexual desire and function for many of the same reasons people of many age do. Physical illness, surgeries and arthritis can cause changes in sexual health for anyone. Psychological problems like depression and mental illness can also have a negative effect on a person's sexual health.

Maintaining sexual health depends a lot on general physical health, but according to the World Health Organization, sexual health is defined as a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality.

Perceptions about sex also can affect sexual function and desire.

Older women in this culture can perceive that they are too old for sex, or if their spouse is deceased, that sex is not an option.

Older men can connect sexuality with their masculinity.

Sciba, my sister-in-law, said regular sexual activity can help keep the male prostate healthy. It can also help with cardiovascular health for men and women. Aging causes change and accepting these changes and adjusting to them can help. Adjusting behaviors and expectations may increase sexual satisfaction for both genders in the later years.

This may never happen again so pay attention. Here's my five tips for sexual health for the older population:

1. Maintain your physical health.

2. Be honest about concerns and needs that you have.

3. Adjust your expectations and behaviors in the context of your current health state.

4. Ask your doctor to help if needed.

5. Don't underestimate the value of nonsexual affection.

Sources: World Health Organization. (2011). Health topics: sexual health. Retrieved from who.int.topics; ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3267340/es;

ageing.oxfordjournals.org;

meded.uci.edu

Katie Sciba is a writer, a licensed social worker, a pastor's wife and a mother from Victoria. She works for AARN Health Services and blogs online at Always Simply Begin.

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