Though most people share the belief that the elderly should not or do not have sex, Dr. Tamara McClintock Greenberg, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California in San Francisco differs. According to Greenberg, many elders find a new wave in their sexuality after retirement. Moreover, elders who live in retirement and long-term care homes experience a new-found freedom to engage in sexual acts. Statistics show that 87% of married men and 89% of married women between the ages of 60-64 remain sexually active (Bloom, 2000). Furthermore, Bloom (2000) also purported that 29% of men and 25% of women still engage in sexual activity well into their 80s.
The notion that elderly sex is repulsive may stem from three factors. First, just like our parents deny our sexuality as children, we tend to do the same with them as adults. Sexuality is taboo for most families and the sexual lives of parents are kept hidden and secret from children to “save them from harm”. Therefore, children grow up with the same negation of their parents’ sexuality they experienced. Second, women have been historically sexually repressed. Therefore, many women live sexual lives that end with menopause and for some, soon after all children are born. Third, the obsession with a youth-oriented society places all value in fun, sex, health and happiness only reserved for the young. The media perpetuates this myth throughout by perpetuating the stereotype that young is sexy, sexual and desirable but old is not. Most people frown upon images of older women or older men having sex in the media, especially sex between young and old.
In summary, the attitudes about sex within the elder population are not positive. Just like milk, elders are believed to become bad and stinky the more time they have been on the shelf. However, elders have the right to have a fulfilling and abundant sex life if they choose to have it, just like everybody else.
Bloom. P. (2000). Sex in the elder. Retrieved from http://www.globalaging.org/health/us/sexelderly.ht
Greenberg, T. M. (2009). The secret lives of sex in the elderly. Psychology Today. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/21st-century-aging/200912/the-secret-lives-sex-in-the-elderly