Getting older doesn’t mean you just want to knit sweaters all day.
A recent poll by Age UK, a British organization that aims to improve quality of life for seniors, revealed that out of 2,000 senior citizens polled in Great Britain, almost two-thirds of its participants enjoy a fulfilling sex life. One in eight (12%) said they would like to try new things with their partners and just under one in five (18%) wanted to be more sexually active.
While the poll is far from a scientific study and reflects the feelings of a specific age cohort and culture, the poll encourages discussion about sexual satisfaction for senior citizens. In addition, it behooves us to wonder why in America it is often uncomfortable for people to think about sexuality and aging, or why some people think that sexual interest exits your life when you receive your AARP card.
People want to live forever but no one wants to age. There is an obsession with being young; many plastic surgeries and anti-aging solutions tap into peoples’ insecurities about aging and play into the wishful thinking that if you look younger, you’ll feel younger. But does that translate into a better sex life? Is sexual satisfaction embedded in the fountain of youth, or is that simply a marketing ploy?
Perhaps one of the more telling findings in the poll is that for seniors, the most likely source of sexual health information is a nurse or doctor. Not the Internet, or books, or a friend at bingo. But only 17% of respondents said they ask. This means that it is incumbent on the medical field to not only integrate sexual health into assessments, but normalize sexuality regardless of age or medical issues. The more seniors feel that their sexuality is acknowledged and respected, the more likely they will seek help or look for ways to enhance their sexual functioning.
There needs to be more public discussion about sexuality and aging. Not only in the dysfunction context, but in a normalizing way just as there is discussion about sexuality at younger ages. True, not all seniors are attending sexuality classes with Barbra Streisand’s character in “Meet the Fockers”, but we all deserve to experience pleasure in their golden years.