Love in retirement (and the “S” Word)

Where sex may once have been the “S” word, now it is also seniors as Boomers do not like to be called that word!  The combination of the two words is quite an eye opener! Lots of sites for the dating crowd over 50 are very busy these days.  So many people of this generation are looking for companionship, a life partner, or a sexual partner or some combination.  Vitality, sensuality, and the urge to love and be loved are ageless despite some pretty nasty stereotypes.Love in retirement is becoming a big issue for boomers.

Silver Boys and Golden Girls

The TV show, The Golden Girls, shook up some of those stereotypes.  Now, grey divorce is a reality even in long term relationships.  A financial advisor told me of clients that split up after a 40 plus year marriage within months of the husband’s retirement.  “It’s a heck of a time to split assets, I told them but off they went.”  This is not an unusual example.  Many boomers are looking for that one last chance for a better relationship.  Romances bloom in retirement communities and nursing homes demonstrating that the need for love continues to drive our desires.

In fact, the desire for intimacy, the need to be physically touched, and an outlet for sexuality are integral to full personhood at any age.  Love is often considered a basic source of meaning and, for many, sex is its expression.  In their book, Sex May Be Wasted On the Young, Lee and Michael Stones summed up the trends in research on sexuality in later life:

  1. Sex is just as enjoyable in older age as in youth.
  2. The quantity of sexual behaviour need not change much with aging.
  3. Older people enjoy various forms of sexual expression.
  4. The main barriers are impotency in men and the unavailability of a capable partner for women.

Use a little caution

Lori Brotto, associate professor of gynecology at the University of British Columbia and a registered psychologist, confirms this as research demonstrates that people continue to be sexually active well into later stages of life.  She also warns of the rates of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis that have been increasing particularly among older individuals including those in retirement communities and nursing homes.

She explains that awareness programs target youth, older folks are less likely to confide in their doctors, they are the pre-AIDS education generation, are able to access little blue pills and over the counter lubes.  However, they are much less likely to pick up a package of condoms!  Thus the need for more raincoats pre horizontal whoopee!

Valerie Gibson who wrote the e-book, The Later Dater, gives tips to women in particular about carrying condoms.  She reminds them of the dangers of STIs and warns them not to take exclusivity with their partners for granted.

Someone I spoke to in the health care field suggested this topic because she says that they are seeing so many negative health effects from sexually active seniors.  “Somebody needs to let them know about the minefield of consequences.  Pregnancy is no longer one but there are lots more!”

It’s complicated

Sites like SeniorMatch, eHarmony, Match.com, Ourtime, and Seniorpeoplemeet.com are online shopping centers for hope, love, sex, companionship and possibilities.  Love holds a powerful chemical punch with the flood of various chemicals, endorphins, and hormones flooding the most important sex organ, the brain.  The physical activity of sex has a myriad of positive effects for the body and mood between consenting partners.  It gets more complicated when power struggles, resentments, negative comments or compatibility issues are also in the room.

So, the S words, sex and seniors, do mix.

Written by Donna McCaw

Donna McCaw is the author of It’s Your Time about the choices and decisions in preparing for retirement, a storyteller and speaker who helps people make informed and positive transitions to retirement. She does courses and presentations on Retirement Readiness and Women and Retirement.

Leave a reply