Aging With Gusto

— Written By N.C. Cooperative Extension

Aging with Gusto and Sex After 60!

Pause for a moment.  Think back to when you were a child.  What did your grandmother and her friends wear?  How did they spend their days?  What was their general demeanor?  Now, think of Tina Turner, Cher, Richard Gere, Larry King and other folks who in their 60s and 70s.  How are they different from the generation before them?

As baby boomers age, many believe you are only as old as you feel.  The generation who brought us the Rolling Stones, free love and The Joy of Sex is redefining aging, sex and sexuality to fit their beliefs and needs.  According to the World Health Organization, active aging is the process of optimizing opportunities in life and allowing people to realize their fullest potential for physical, social and mental well-being throughout the life course.  Baby boomers are more active spiritually, physically, socially and relish in giving back to the community. Many folks over 60 are continuing to work either by earning a paycheck or by volunteering.  They feel healthier, appear more youthful, and often want to look sexier than a generation ago.

So what about sex?  Research shows there are couples in their 80s still having sex.  Surprise?  First, let’s talk about aging.  In what feels like an instant, we go from being a totally dependent infant to walking, going to school and then shooting into adolescence.  Before you know it, we are married and having children.  To our dismay, we eventually find we can’t see as well in our 40s, hear as well in our 50s and our taste buds may be a little off in our 60s.  As men age, testosterone levels decline and changes in blood flow, desire and sexual function are common.  Women go through menopause and estrogen production decreases.  Sexual pleasure can be affected.  What can be done to maintain a healthy sex life?  First, be patient with yourself and with your partner.  Communicate expectations – how does each spouse see themselves aging, their sex life changing and their level of activity?  Go on a research binge.  Check out books on aging and sex at the library.  Learn about sensuality and consider redefining sex to include emotional intimacy, alternative forms of physical intimacy such as cuddling, and doing sexy things together.  Ask yourselves:  What does “sexually active” mean to me?  Intercourse?  Kissing?  Foreplay? Then, recognize that you can change the rules and spice it up.  Foreplay can last all day through hugging, hand holding, playful and passionate kissing, giving each other massages at breakfast, dancing on the porch during lunch, snuggling on the sofa and considering making love at different times of the day.

Stay tuned for part two of this column to include new prescription options, an increase in sexually transmitted diseases in those over 55, and “Sixty, Sexy and Single”.     

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Rachel Harris Monteverdi is the Warren County Family & Consumer Sciences Agent for North Carolina Cooperative Extension, a division of North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University.  The Family & Consumer Sciences department incorporates prenatal to end-of-life programs.  Priorities for North Carolina citizens include:  Family & Parenting Education; Balancing Work & Family Workshops; Academic Success; Elder Care; Active Aging; Planning for the Future; Home Ownership & Housing Issues; Conservation & Environmental Issues; Leadership; Emergency Management and more.  Call 252-257-3640, email Rachel_Monteverdi@ncsu.edu or visit http://warren.ces.ncsu.edu for additional information.