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Friday, July 18, 2008

Sexy Senior Citizens

I’ve been thinking about how sex plays out in “the senior years” lately. I have quite a few sixty and older clients right now and they keep me on my toes.

I was listening to my colleague, Dr. Dean Edell, on his national radio show recently. He was describing a study conducted in Scandinavia of senior citizens seventy and older. Essentially, the study found that many of these seniors were quite content with their sex lives. In fact, they were more satisfied now than they had been ten years ago in most ways that the research had evaluated.

As I listened, I was doing the math and realized that today’s seventy-year olds were in their late twenties and early thirties when the sexual revolution was going on. I thought about what might have caused them dissatisfaction in their sixties and why that might have lifted ten years later.

I don’t know for sure, but here’s my hunch. In the sixties lots of physical changes begin to set in that can derail or frustrate sexuality. It’s a time of adjusting to creaking joints, hearing aids, rising blood pressure and eyesight that yearns for arms just a bit longer than they are. The reality of mortality takes a firm hold on life and I suspect that it’s psychologically daunting for many people.

Yet, why would seventy-year olds be happier with their sexuality? I’ve noticed that some seventy-year olds simply refuse to give up. They enjoyed the fruits of what I think of as “the golden age of sex” (lots of sexual exploration coupled with no fatal diseases). Now, at seventy, they fully appreciate the gift that sex is and, “gosh darn it,” they won’t quit until they have to. So what if there’s an ache or pain; the natural morphine of orgasm will chase that away.

Another medical doctor colleague (in his late fifties) has this observation framed on his office wall, summarizing the cycle of life:

Life is graded on a curve.
At age 4, success is not peeing in your pants.
At age 12, success is having friends.
At age 16, success is having a driver’s license.
At age 20, success is having sex.
At age 35, success is having money.
At age 50, success is having money.
At age 60, success is having sex.
At age 70, success is having a driver’s license.
At age 75, success is having friends.
At age 80, success is not peeing in your pants.

I have no idea when this was written, but given the increasing longevity of seniors, I think that we could easily add another decade of “success is having money” at age 60 and in doing so, find that at 70 “success is having sex.” I know that many of my clients would agree and in about 15 years, I hope to agree as well.

Recently, one of my senior citizen clients sent me this:

Two elderly ladies are sitting on the porch, doing nothing.
One lady turns and asks, ‘Do you still get horny?’
The other replies, ‘Oh, sure I do.’
The first old lady asks, ‘What do you do about it?’
The second old lady replies, ‘I suck a lifesaver.’
After a few moments, the first old lady asks, ‘Who drives you to the beach?’

I really like the built-in assumption that “the first old lady” makes about her friend. I think that we should also make these assumptions and wait to be told that we’re wrong!

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Posted by: WebMD Blogs at 7:38 am

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