Closeness, intimacy and touch are lifelong needs that do not get old, even when we do. We may be graying but our rainbows are still flickering, as our sexuality evolves and changes over our lifecycle. It is simply not true that when we are lighting dozens of candles on our birthday cake that we lose interest in sex or that our lives as sexual beings are over. Let me share with you some of the ways sexuality evolves and changes as we age, but is still very much a part of who we are until the day we die.
What is sexuality education and who needs it? Adults, of course! Questions from hundreds of my students, aged 50 to 90, are powerful evidence of the poignant concerns people have about sex and intimacy in mid and later life:
Few stereotypes of gay life are as persistent as that of the sexually starved older man. Gay life has traditionally centered on the young and the beautiful. This issue is a particularly hot one for gay men because regardless of age, they have a strong interest in sex. In the memorable phrase of one writer, “Sexuality isn’t what we do; it’s who we are.”
This article has been excerpted from Joan Price's book, The Ultimate Guide to Sex After 50: How to Maintain–or Regain!–a Spicy, Satisfying Sex Life (2015, Cleis Press).
What does it mean to be sexually well or sexually healthy in later life? This question has not gotten much attention until recently, given the prevalence of stigmatic beliefs about aging sexuality and lack of understanding about aging sexuality. The reality is people express themselves sexually across the lifespan, and even though sexual scripts may change over time, sexual expression continues and it remains important in relationships and for overall well-being.
One important component of Dennis Dailey’s “Circles of Sexuality” is sexual identity, which incorporates biological gender, gender identity, gender role, and sexual orientation. As professionals in the field of aging, we know that these aspects of identity are dynamic throughout the life course, often taking on unique meanings in later life.
The recent good news that Congress is providing first-time funding for the Elder Justice Act to prevent elder abuse provides hope that justice in aging is on the horizon. It also provides an opportunity for us to reflect upon what justice means for all of us as we age.
Describing the way frail elders and dying people were cared for in post–World War II Britain, Dr. John Hinton wrote in his 1967 book, Dying (London: Viking Press), “The dissatisfied dead cannot noise abroad the negligence they have experienced.” Half a century later, and an ocean away, Hinton’s statement is sadly resonant.