I believe that there is a misconception when it comes to elders and their stereotype that as they age, they no longer have, want, or need sex. I think that people remain sexually active throughout their life span. Much like this cartoon. It appears that this elder couple is being interviewed by a reporter. When asked What do you think about this study that says senior citizens are having sex two or three times a month that elder gentleman looks shocked and answers with a thats all? It seems as if there is a stereotype that once people age and and/or hit the chronological age of 65, they stop being intimate with those of the opposite sex. Clearly this is not true for all. There may come a point where there is a decrease in sexual activity for elders, but their interest to engage in sexual activity is still present. I believe this is what is being conveyed in this media cartoon.
You see, as a younger adult (myself included), we do not want to think that as people age, they still engage in sexuality. Truth is, as they age, their sex life does not end at all. Sometimes it can decrease, or there may be things that can hinder it, but as much as we do not want to think about our parents, grandparents (or any other elders for that matter), having sex truth is they still are/still do. Even if they are not admitting to their own sexual desires or current sexual relationships. The cartoon I chose makes it clear that senior citizens still have the want and desire. While aging may change their sex life in many ways or to a certain extent, it most definitely does not end it. Even though the reporter in my cartoon portrayals it as senior citizens only having sex a few times a month, I feel that for most senior citizens sexuality can be more, because sexuality in elders is not just about intercourse (or partner sex), it includes masturbation as well. Sometimes many physiological, psychological, and social changes can play a part in their sexual behavior.
There are many physiological changes that affect an older adults sexuality. Some of these physiological changes in men are things like declining hormones, or testosterone levels, erection dysfunction, or his health. Lower testosterone in males is also known as male menopause. As males age, their erections become less firm and ejaculation decreases. When a males testosterone levels lower, they often have an increase in sexual, mood, and cognitive disorders (“Sexuality – Normal physiological changes in older adults”, 2019). The physiological changes in women, are much like the men. As women age, they face menopause; which is the result of a decrease in estrogen levels. Their vagina can become irritated due to a lack in vaginal lubrication and orgasms can shortened or feel less intense. In addition to a decrease in a womans vaginal lubrication, women also experience some tissue shrinkage, loss of elasticity, and thinning of the vaginal wall. So, having sex as an aging woman can become painful.
The mental and emotional state, or psychological changes, can also hinder elders sexuality. Sex plays an important part of everyones psychological health. Sometimes illnesses or medication can diminish an individuals desire for sex, by their medications having side effects that impair their sexuality. More than half of men and 85 percent of women reported that illness did not adversely affect their sexuality (“Sexuality – Normal physiological changes in older adults”, 2019). For elders who are no longer able to perform intercourse, things such as holding hands, hugging, kissing, oral sex, masturbation, and even fondling are significance for those who are no longer capable of performing sex or who is a widower. When an elder loses a loved one they often search for the intimacy they once had. That brings me to my next development of the social aspect of sexuality in elders.
Many social aspects can also create issues surrounding sexuality and the elderly. The one that came straight to my mind was elders who are living in nursing homes, assisted living programs, or adult homes. All of these places which I have named limit elders opportunities to engage in any type of intimacy or sexual behavior due to a lack of privacy. Many nurses who work in such facilities do not take into consideration that most elders still desire to have intercourse or a need for affection from a companion. Due to some nurses lack of knowledge, and negative attitudes, they do not create an environment for healthy sexuality in elders living in nursing homes. For those who the desire is there with, and have that need for sexuality, they are often labeled as being troublesome. Being admitted into such programs can end any and all sexual opportunities for older people. We need to stop looking at elders as disabled senior citizens, and remember that they are humans too and despite where they live, they still have needs, and those needs still need to be met. For that to happen, we need to respect that and require that they are given some privacy.
To conclude, there are many factors that can play a part in decreasing ones sex life. Some of those sexual issues are things like arthritis, which can make sex uncomfortable, heart disease, this can take men and women longer to get aroused and medications, which are said to reduce sexual desires or lead to erectile dysfunction. Aging doesnt end sex. Aging changes it (Castleman, 2010). While some of these things changes sexuality for those who are 65 and over, they dont necessarily stop having sex all together, they just find more enjoyable ways to do so. Masturbation is more common in older adults than intercourse because elders are looking for ways to satisfy their need for an orgasm. Sex is still an important part of their life. Erotic impulse lasts a lifetime. Where theres a will, theres always a way (Castleman, 2010).