Intimacy is a common human desire, however, ageing can present challenges for those wanting to maintain their sexuality. Physical, mental and social changes can impact the sex lives of many older Australians.
Despite these challenges, an increasing number of people are enjoying the benefits of a full and active sex life well into their later years, according to the Australasian Institute of Sexual Health Medicine (AISHM).
Their research suggests that sexual activity plays an important role for 79% of men and 66% of women over 60 years of age. Older people can be often more confident and relaxed about their bodies.
Intimacy and the expression of sexuality are important for everybody’s wellbeing and these factors continue to be relevant as we age. AISHM statistics show that regular sexual activity helps maintain that aspect of their lives through to old age. Many people who have been sexually active throughout their life will continue their interest and responsiveness as older individuals.
Scientific studies also suggest that a loving relationship, physical touch and sexual intimacy can bring a number of health benefits, such as lower blood pressure1.
As our society continues to embrace and accept our differences, aged care staff are becoming increasingly aware of other sexualities and the needs of older people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI).
Dr Michael Bauer, senior research fellow at the Australian Centre for Evidence Based Aged Care at La Trobe and his colleagues have developed a sexuality assessment tool to help residential aged care facilities support sexual expression in residents. Designed to help identify areas where further improvements may be required, this tool was created in consultation with industry experts and consumers, including staff, family members, and individuals in residential aged care facilities.
For more on this topic, check out our post on Alzheimer’s Australia Vic and COTA Victoria’s ‘Let’s Talk About Sex’ conference.