Oh my God – Older People Have Sex?!

Amie Newman

Surprise! Older Americans still have sex - whether married or single. And in order to ensure seniors' sexual health is addressed, health care providers and society at large need to become more culturally competent.

Editor’s Note: We just published, today, the first in a series of articles on sexuality and aging, How Are Your Orgasms, Mom?, co-produced by the National
Sexuality Resource Center and Rewire. Check back in the coming weeks for more on seniors and sexuality.

In light of the attention our elders are getting about their sex lives and sexual health on Rewire, we thought it would be interesting to point out this article in the New York Times last week:

Yes, We Do. Even At Our Age. 

We talk about cultural competency as it relates to all sorts of marginalized groups of people when it comes to health care provision: LGBTQIs; those for whom English is not their primary language; low-income individuals. But what about seniors?

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As the article points out, when the author visits her doctor and is asked, "Are you and your husband still sexually active?”, she’s a bit annoyed that the implication inherent in that question is that she and her husband could not possibly be sexually active at their ages. The author writes,

Sex at our age is something we’re evidently more comfortable joking
about than talking about honestly. But that doesn’t mean it’s not
happening, despite our declining energy, joints and memory.

But the truth is, seniors have been often ignored in this culture when it comes to sex, sexual health and sexuality. We obviously have our own cultural discomfort with the idea of our elders having sex – let alone great sex. But it’s happening – and as Americans live longer shouldn’t we live longer enjoying ourselves as sexual beings?

If sex is happening – either between a married couple or between single people – there still needs to be attention paid to caring for ones’ sexual health. These issues and more will be explored each week, for the next six weeks, on Rewire in partnership with the National Sexuality Resource Center so check back, forward onto your friends, aunts, uncles, parents or grandparents and let us know what you think! 

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