Sexuality And Intimacy Issues As We Age

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Patrick Arbore, Ed.D., Founder and Director Center for Elderly Suicide Prevention & Grief Related Services, Institute on Aging, San Francisco, CA

Friendship Line for the Elderly
24-hour Friendship Line for the Elderly – Local Line (415) 752-3778 Toll Free (800) 971-0016 Contact: Patrick Arbore
[email protected] or Charis Stiles, MSW, FL Manager [email protected] Institute on Aging Information – (415) 750-4111

According to Robert Butler – •  Is the physical and emotional
responsiveness to sexual stimuli – goes beyond the sexual urge and the sex act •  Offers the opportunity to express not only for passion but also for affection, esteem, and loyalty •  Allows a general affirmation of life (joy!)

The Importance of Sexuality and Aging
•  Older adults are diverse individuals who may engage in a variety of sexual behaviors
•  Sexual orientation of older adults includes heterosexual as well as LGBT individuals
•  Older adults date, cohabitate, engage in affairs, have protected or unprotected sex, may be sexually abused, masturbate or may abstain

The Importance of Sexuality and Aging
•  Older adults may be negotiating new sexual situations after a divorce or death of a spouse or partner – or after breast or prostate cancer or other chronic illnesses
•  Older adults may be using the internet or other forms of social media to seek relationships

Sexuality and the Aging Body
•  The act of sex is complex, encompassing the body, the mind, and the emotions.
•  Sex involves the nervous and circulatory systems and the hormones as well as specific organs of the body.
•  Sexual response cycle – sexual desire, followed by excitement or erotic arousal, orgasm or climax, and resolution or recovery – similar cycle for both men and women.

Portrayals of Sexuality and Aging in US
•  According to ageist attitudes, older adults either do not engage in sexual relationships or that this experience is dirty, disgusting or taboo
•  The ageist stereotype suggests that older adults are helpless, depressed and sexless
•  Sexuality and its pleasures are reserved for the young

Aging and the Media
•  Older people are frequently portrayed as annoying, lonely, stubborn, depressed, cognitively impaired, and sick
•  Unless older people are healthy, wealthy and sexy, they do not appear on television screens

Barriers to Sexuality & Aging
•  Sexual function is often affected in individuals and couples living with chronic illness – particularly cardiovascular disease, pulmonary conditions, and cancer
•  There are physical concerns and psychological concerns – anxiety and fear regarding sexual activity are prominent among those with heart problems

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)
•  Despite the increased risk of STIs among older adults, health care providers do not routinely discuss STIs or HIV with this pop.
•  Older adults may not ask questions or raise concerns about risk factors, prevention, or symptoms of STIs

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Sexuality And Intimacy Issues As We Age