Sex and intimacy
dont have to end at 60...
By NATHAN S. WELTON
SOUTH COAST BEACON
Okay, sure, mom and dad do it. Were all resigned to
that. But grandma and grandpa? Getting the groove on?
Absolutely. In fact, one local therapist
recently published an instructional pamphlet on having relations
in a Craftmatic adjustable bed.
Yep, seniors shag-- as they should.
"No matter what age we are,
we are sexual beings from the time were born until
the time we die," said Suzanne Rapley, a local sex
therapist with a doctorate in psychology. "We can keep
our sexual health alive by paying attention to it, and by
not buying into the notion of ageism-- because the truth
is, people are never to old to be sexual."
Explaining that sex ranges from
cuddling and hand- holding to mutual masturbation and intercourse,
she said, "One of the most important things for the
aging population is developing a repertoire of activities,
because if youre limited because of illness or changing
bodies, you need to have lots of options."
Believe it or not, love is like
wine: it can get better-- if not more complex-- with each
passing year. And properly cultivating it requires attention,
care and compassion.
Luckily, retirees have a bit more
spare time to practice and older women dont have to
worry about pregnancy, "which is nothing short of lovely,"
said a sex therapy client, a 58-year old professional, who
asked to be called Jeannie.
Still, a host of issues do haunt
seniors in the sack. Fortunately many are surmountable with
treatment-- either therapy or medication-- or simply require
a new outlook.
To begin with, say some seniors,
sex can stale after many years.
"Sex can become routine, and
for people at that age, its like OK, weve
been doing it for a long time, and its almost
down to a physical level," said Pamela Madison, director
of Santa Barbaras Womens Sexuality Center.
"Sometimes it doesnt
give people the emotional satisfaction that theyre
hoping to gain."
Acknowledging and accepting this
can often improve the situation.
The lack of desire can also come from drugs like antidepressants
or blood pressure medicines, which "can be pretty hard
to override," she said. "Unfortunately there are
some doctors out there who pat people on the head and say
Youre old, youve been there and done that,
so get over it, and thats pretty sad."
But desire disorders also arise from inadequacies stemming
from physical ailments. For example, a man with erectile
dysfunction might feel so embarrassed-- or his wife might
feel incapable of arousing him-- that both find it easier
to avoid lovemaking.
Better to invest in a supply of Viagra, seek therapy and
explore sexuality without intercourse, according to therapists.
Still, sex without intercourse may
be an alien concept to many couples not accustomed to talking
To help, seniors can enroll in workshops
aimed at rejuvenating love lives, either through emotional
enrichment or simply through skills development that may
be lacking, even after 30, 40 or 50 years of experience.
Another common problem facing seniors
is a lack of desire, which paradoxically, can come from
closeness, said Rapley.
"Most people think the best
sex was when they started courting, but as the person becomes
more important to you, you become more vulnerable-- and
as you become more vulnerable, the desire begins to wax
and wane," she said.
"Part of the problem for older
generations is they dont have great communication
skills around sexual loving," said Madison. "They
grew up just getting by at a time when sex wasnt talked
about, and when theyre older, getting by
doesnt work anymore-- so they either start having
conversations or they stop making love."
Jeannie, her client, echoed this.
She explained she grew up in the Beaver Cleaver years in
the Midwest, suffering through a tabooed silence over sex.
But when she enrolled in Madisons classes, she learned
how to talk about lovemaking and no longer found herself
embarrassed by it.
"My communication (with my
husband) has improved in the sexual area," said Jeannie,
nothing the communication improvements have spilled over
into the rest of her life as well. "For example, I
didnt know there was such a thing as a g-spot, but
after class I came home and said, Wow, lets
see if we can find it!"
And thats when she had the
opportunity to test out some of the skills she learned in
class, which in some ways functions as adult sex education.
"(These skills) can be real
catalyst in a couples relationship for deepening their
intimacy and taking them into a profound spiritual eroticism
together," said Madison.
One of her clients, a renter with
little privacy, was so exited to test out her new knowledge
that she and her husband hopped in the car, cruised into
the hills and enjoyed a little backseat mambo-- all after
40 years of marriage.
With this sort of sex therapy, "you
can get in touch with that side of yourself thats
been damaged or simply never allowed to flourish, and thats
what I experienced," said Jeannie. "I feel more
comfortable with myself, feel more in tune with myself,
and thats filtered through onto a lot of other levels
of my life, like my business and my family. Its not
Oh, and incidentally, she reported
having an "excellent" time finding her g-spot.
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