Aging Matters Course Essay

1504 words - 7 pages

Topic: Intimacy and older adults; How older people express intimacy.
Scholars believe that sexual intimacy improves the quality of life. Thus, People in their adult life deserve the right to sexual fulfillment; yet, the expression in sexuality and intimacy changes in response to age. Research has shown that there are many barriers to intimacy in elderly population. The barriers are usually created as a result of the myths about sexuality and older adults. Many relate the sexual intimacy barriers of older adults to health and argue that there is a relationship between sexuality and health. However, this paper argues that the physical and pathological changes in elderly should not be ...view middle of the document...

Thus, having a healthier life style should give the older adults the courage to express sexual intimacy. In addition, age related changes in older men and women can create some sexual barriers for them. For instance, “changes that occur in the sexual physiology of an aging male can affect both erectile function and ejaculation” (Deacon, 1995). In addition, decreased amounts of circulating estrogen after menopause have negative influence on female. However, knowing that these changes are not dysfunctional and there is a range of sexual activities that could still be pleasurable for older adults, could help them better express intimacy.
In addition to physical barriers, there are psychological barriers for older adults to express sexual intimacy. There are many age related myths that can have negative influence on attitude of older adults toward sex. For example, many older adults have a wrong belief system that they are too old for sex, or they think they are physically unattractive or incapable of achieving sexual arousal (Hall, Selby, & Vanclay, 1982). Older adults also have very limited formal knowledge about sexual functioning since many of them were raised with cultural backgrounds that forbid them from discussing scientific sexual information (Bouman, 2006). In addition, many of the older adults have gained negative attitude toward sex during their young age which now impairs them from enjoying sexual experience. The negative attitudes are especially toward sex outside of marriage. Therefore, losing spouse or being in a loveless marriage can undermine sexual experience of many older adults. Many of health care providers, staff members of residents’ care facilities and even adult children of older adults also have negative attitude toward sexual intimacy of older adults. Thus, education is clearly needed to remove the negative myths and attitude in older people and to promote the perception that sexual expression is part of their entire adult life.
Environmental factors also influence the sexual expression of older adults. Lack of privacy restricts older people’s sexual freedom. As Deacon argues in her paper, SEXUALITY AND OLDER PEOPLE: REVISITING THE ASSUMPTIONS, “the lack of privacy in nursing homes is a major obstacle to sexual expression. Many institutions segregate men and women… older residents report that because of a lack of privacy and inhibiting staff attitudes, they have little opportunity to experience intimacy” ( Deacon, 1995). It is clear that lack of privacy create a challenge for older adults who live in the communal living environment and want to have an active sex life.
This paper has so far shown a number of physical, psychological and environmental barriers that prevent older adults to express and enjoy intimacy. The first step for older adults toward expressing intimacy is accepting their feelings, values and attitudes toward sexuality. Sexuality can mean different things for different people. For...

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