I know it. You could not resist reading this post as the good old catchy headline caught your eye.
But what if I continued that sentence: Let’s talk about sex … for people past the age of 65. Still interested? Well, you are not the only one.
Media seems to cover sex either as a privilege for the young and beautiful or as a consequence of the way too vital second youth following a late-in-life-divorce-crisis. But how about the sexual everyday life when you pass the age of 65? And what if you are not only elderly but also living alone or even homosexual?
These questions have two young psychologists Tine E. Gottschau and Michael M. Pedersen asked themselves, and on this Thursdays’ Hertoft-afternoon we were all dying to hear the answer.
Norms and values in society changes over time, and soon it was clear that the late 1960’s “Summer of Love” turned the rules of proper behavior upside-down. Suddenly it was ok to share sexual experiences (both by talking and doing!), it was accepted that homosexuality does exist and even the clitoris was “invented” for masturbation during the 70s …
However, the sexual revolution does not seem to have had the same effect in health service, concerning care for the elderly men and women who started the revolution in the first place. Healthcare staff are afraid of violating personal boundaries of their patients, and even among students at the health service-education interest in learning about the sexual issues are very low. It simply does not seem relevant to most clinical staff to talk about sex.
Luckily, that was not the case among the present clinicians this afternoon. The psychologists shared bits of their interviews, revealing experiences with lack of erection, choosing porn over living people for satisfaction and how to “fire it up” again with a former lover from Facebook. All collected from everyday life.
“Well, if you still need to be that sexual active late in life, I guess you must be married early in your life”, remarked a woman.
“That is not my experience”, was the immediate answer from a lady in a wheelchair, who clearly had more than a few years of (life)experience.
Organizer and medical professor Christian Graugaard also shared this amusing story from real life:
An 80 year-old lady needs a surgery in her abdomen, which might cause sexual trouble. The young surgeon asks her if she still has sex with her husband. Her answer is: “No. Not since the 1940s.” During the preparation for the surgery the nurse wants to confirm this information in the journal, saying: “It says here that you are no longer sexual active”. The old lady looks thunderstruck. “It does say that you have not had sex with your husband since the 1940s”, explains the nurse kindly. “My husband!”, exclaims the lady. “Not that layabout. I do have a friend, you know.”
As I returned home, I sensed Spring in the air. Juices do not dry out just because it is Winter and time to hibernate for a while. I feel comfortable that I will live an active old age, in every way.
Until then I bring a request from the psychologists:
- Remember that we are all different and times changes norms.
- Healthcare staff need to talk to their patients about sex.
- We need much more scientific knowledge on elderly people’s sexuality.
Just think about nature. Who knows what vital powers might show here very soon 😉
Want to talk more about sex?
Find the programme for Hertoft-afternoons here at Coordination for Gender Research.