I didn’t give a lot of thought to love and sexual relationships for seniors when I coined the term “POPcycle” — the stage of life when many millennials and middle-agers start “POParenting,” or helping out their aging loved ones. But, as it turns out, there’s a lot of romantic love and even great sex for many after 65!
Probably the reason I didn’t give it a lot of thought was because my own parents, then living, were already in their late 80’s and early 90’s. Most of us got through our early years, as did I, purposely NOT imagining our parents having sex. Then, as we got to be the adults, many of us found it “yucky” to think of anyone north of 55 doing anything “like that.”
But things do change as we move through the lifecycle and we can learn to incorporate new information to become happier.
One of life’s ironies is that, if we’re lucky enough to live long enough, we may have to face our own biases about “old people.”
Apparently, researchers have learned not only that sex can continue until death but it can even get better as we age! A Duke University study reveals that, of those already 65 and over, a full 20% reported having better sex than ever before! Perhaps you can imagine some of the reasons for that, or perhaps you’re lucky enough to be part of the 20% and can enlighten our readers!
Experts such as author/professor Walter M. Bortz of Stanford Medical School suggest there’s no reason not to have good sex all the way until the end of our lives if we: 1) have a good mate; 2) stay interested; 3) stay healthy; and 4) stay off medications. That may be a tall order, but how useful to know it and aim to structure our lives in those directions well before we become seniors!
We know from many studies that loneliness and social isolation for both men and women can be devastating, raising the likelihood of death from heart attacks, angina and depression. This has become an enormous problem for seniors as we saw in the many painful responses to our recent blog on senior loneliness. Participating in love and companionable affection can be life changing in very positive ways for those who may have become withdrawn and depressed after “giving up” on this important part of their lives.
Moreover, even if seniors have some specific needs or dependencies on our children as they age (e.g. help driving to the doctors or balancing our checkbooks) why should those mark the end of romance? Of all the times in life, why should seniors be consigned to a life without companionship as they age, if they want it differently?
One unexpected barrier to creating love after 55 is the judgments seniors may encounter from their children, especially if their parents have divorced. If you discourage your widowed Mom from meeting new people or attending social events at her church, you’re sending a message that can be very powerful and lead to years of solitary living. Do you really want that for the people you love when you could support them to have a more vibrant and full life? And interestingly, one unplanned-for benefit of an older parent’s developing a romance may include relief from some of the burdens of POParenting.
If you’re one of our readers on the younger side of the POPcycle equation who’s been opposed up until now to your widowed or divorced parents’ dating, maybe you’d be willing to re-think that? Might you decide to support them in their search for love and affection? Or maybe you’ve thought about it already and are just fine. If so, you’ll probably have the gifts of a generous heart and, most likely, a “renewed”parent.
If you’re a senior and considering having a romantic or sexual relationship with someone you already know or a new person, we strongly urge you to always be smart.
* discuss candidly any and all health-related questions you might have with your professionals;
* be wary of strangers from the Internet and meet them in public locations, letting others know of your plans;
* do not pay for any services you don’t wish or haven’t ordered;
* don’t do anything that makes you uncomfortable; you’re a grownup now and can always say “No!”
And if you’re a single senior with desires for romance, affection and maybe sex, how do YOU feel about dating? Is that ok with you? There are physical, psychological and other challenges with sex over 55 and one site among many to offer relevant help is: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/aging-well/better-sex-as-you-age.htm
If you like what you’ve read here and are interested in reading more, you can buy the book “Oh My God! We’re Parenting Our Parents: How To Transform This Remarkable Challenge Into A Journey of Love.”