Do you ever find yourself wandering aimlessly in the grocery aisles, wishing you’d written down the list of items you need? Dr Luisa Dillner suggests a solution: have more sex. The connection? Apparently, studies are showing that sex can lead to better cognitive health, and can protect against physical problems like high blood pressure and prostate cancer.
As Dr Dillner says, “public attitudes being what they are, you might prefer that no one over 50 had sex at all.” To do a check-in on that public attitude, open the Guardian article by clicking below (the second article there), look at the photo, and note your own reaction. (Go ahead, I’ll wait.)
Okay, so, did you laugh? Gasp? Feel embarrassed? That woman is clearly pretty screamin’ happy, and why shouldn’t she be? If the photo depicted a pair of thirty-somethings, you may not have even taken note of it at all.
So why does the idea of grey haired people having fun in bed elicit such a squirmy response? We don’t gasp or laugh when we see a senior completing a marathon, and in fact, we cheer them on. News stories about seniors running businesses, or sky diving on their 90th birthdays, or teaching yoga classes – these don’t elicit the “ewwww” factor at all. Bauer et al (2016) found in their research that seniors often found even medical professionals to be less than interested in talking about sexuality, suggesting that some people are not getting the help they need to overcome the common, age-related conditions that get in the way of enjoyable sex. So even some doctors, who have seen pretty much everything, assume that sexuality among seniors is not important enough to talk about past handing out a prescription for blue pills.
As a culture geared towards encouraging healthy lifestyles, it seems sex is the next frontier. Twenty years ago, yoga was considered a bit weird, granola, but is now mainstream, accompanied by a plethora of consumer products like mats, stretchy pants, colourful, stay-put tops. There is nothing scandalous about grandma putting a tub of vegan smoothie powder into her grocery cart. But if she put a jug-o-lube in the cart beside her hand lotion, no doubt a few giggles would ensue.
As more consumer products come on the market to satisfy the demands (pun?) of an aging population, sex-over-fifty will clearly re-join the mainstream. Maybe the day will come when we see an older couple “getting a room” and we’ll cheer them on.
Bauer, M., Haesler, E. and Fetherstonhaugh, D. (2016), Let’s talk about sex: older people’s views on the recognition of sexuality and sexual health in the health-care setting. Health Expect, 19: 1237–1250. doi:10.1111/hex.12418
Dillner, L. (2017, July 10). Does having sex when you are older help you stay mentally sharp? The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jul/10/does-having-sex-when-you-are-older-help-you-stay-mentally-sharp