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Your email address is now confirmed. Explore all that AARP has to offer. Offer Details. Thank you for your interest in volunteering! Verified by Psychology Today. Eng aging. Part I, below, provides an overview of the issues surrounding sex in later life. Martha Nussbaum, a philosopher, professor of law and ethics at the University Chicago, and a co-author of Aging Thoughtfully: Conversations about Retirement, Romance, Wrinkles, and Regret , written alongside Dr.
Saul Levmore. Prevalence rates of other infections — including chlamydia, gonorrhea, primary and secondary syphilis—show similar increases among older adults AARP, We can, as a culture and individuals, probably digest the first reason with little resistance: antiretroviral treatment advances have simply permitted infected adults to achieve life expectancies commensurate with those of their uninfected counterparts Nightengale et al.
But the second reason—growth in new infections altogether—means recognizing that sex that does not retire after A complex cocktail of biopsychosocial factors physiological, behavioral, and cultural contributions that interact to produce health outcomes Engel, Biological factors From a purely biological perspective, older adults experience normative changes in immune function that can increase their vulnerability to sexually transmitted infections Zelentz et al.
For example, decreases in T cell number and maturity, weakened cytokine production, and cell responsivity, combined with other metabolic factors, can depress lymphocyte sensitivity and aid the pathogenicity of infections Zelentz et al. Further, thinning of the vagina and anal mucosa due to systemic reductions in testosterone and estrogen as well as decreases in vaginal lubrication, leave older women and men more susceptible to tears during sexual activity that facilitates viral entry. A study comparing actual versus perceived sexual risk among older adults found that the accuracy of risk evaluation decreased in tandem with increases in actual risk, reporting that The consistent finding that older adults practice safe sex less often than younger adults reflects these blind spots and biases Ports et al.
Further, the intersection of menopause with the proliferation of pro-erection medication i. Societal myths and mores about aging and sexuality e. Unsurprisingly, increasing age appears to have an inverse relationship with documented sexual history Loeb et al. Many advocates implicate lack of formal training in the understanding, treatment, and assessment of late-life sexual issues Ports et al.
All of this, despite evidence that most health care professionals agree that addressing sexual health issues ought to be part of the holistic care of patients and that older adults would welcome and desire such discussions Aizenberg et al.
Health: What to Expect in Your 60s
Where do we go from here? Hearteningly, emerging but scant evidence supports my hunch that education may be a good start. Across settings, including in community health centers and nursing homes alike, providing education has been shown to increase permissive attitudes toward aging and sexuality among providers Syme et al. Most recently, internal medicine residents who received an educational intervention consisting of three, minute sessions on sexual history taking demonstrated improved documentation of sexual histories among older folks versus those who did not Loeb et al.
Borrowing from these and other models, psychologists specializing in or simply working with older adults have a moral imperative, given their training, to develop, implement, and evaluate the effectiveness of standardized adult sexual education protocols for practitioners, middle-aged, and older adult patients on, among other things;.
This approach incidentally the subject of my dissertation may provide a sustainable, economical solution to staggering increases in sexual disease and dysfunction in later life. Aizenberg, D. Attitudes toward sexuality among nursing home residence.
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Sexuality and Disability, 20 3 , Sex, romance, and relationships: AARP survey of midlife and older adults. Washington, DC. Journal of Applied Gerontology. Bauer, M. Sexuality, health care, and the older person: An overview of the literature. International Journal of Older people Nursing, 2 1 , Cooney, T.
Intimate relationships in later life.
Why not recognizing older adults as sexual beings has consequences.
Journal of Family Issues, 22 7 , Emlet, C. The Gerontologist, 51 1 , Engel, G. The need for a new medical model: A challenge for biomedicine. Science, , Gott, M. General practitioner attitudes to discussing sexual health issues with older people. Soc Sci Med. Hammond, D. An explanatory study of a workshop on sex and aging Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of Georgia, Athens, GA.
Lindau, S. A study of sexuality and health among older adults in the United States.
The New England Journal of Medicine, 8 , Loeb, D. Modest impact of a brief curricular intervention on poor documentation of sexual history in university-based resident internal medicine clinics. J Sex Medicine, 7 10 , Nightingale, S. Controversies in HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders. Forget the rumours about sixty-somethings having heart attacks mid-coitus.
Studies suggest the opposite is true, and that regular sex can actually reduce your risk of a heart attack. You may also be suffering from increased vaginal dryness due to the loss of elasticity here as you age. I recommend trying a lubricant, such as Regelle or Sylk, which uses natural ingredients. And boost your intake of zinc and vitamin B3. For more from Dr Marilyn Glenville, visit marilynglenville. By Laura Millar. Thank you for subscribing We have more newsletters Show me See our privacy notice. Follow DailyMirror.