Sex and intimacy is simply not a topic that often comes to mind when discussing or contemplating a senior’s life. However, in this day and age, older adults are living longer and maintaining better health, and, as a result, maintaining active sex lives. More often than not, seniors who reside in assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and even those who are aging in place, are sexually active.
As a result, the presence of sexually transmitted infections (STI) and sexually transmitted diseases (STD) in seniors is on the rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released some rather alarming statistics. Between 2007 and 2011 alone, chlamydia infections rose 31 percent among people aged 65. It seems that more and more, an assisted-care facility is akin to a college campus, in that people are “getting together” a lot more. Older people are healthier and, as a result, more sexually active.
The problem is that either seniors don’t realize that safe sex is necessary at their age, they are ignoring the fact, or they simply forget the gravity of practicing safe sex. Seniors who were at their sexual peak before sexual STD awareness became part of the sexual landscape may believe that condoms are predominantly used as a form of birth control. They may have never heard of STDs like chlamydia. However, these diseases pose significant danger to the health of seniors. Because they can easily be protected against, seniors need to know how to do that.
The issue of safe sex doesn’t fall just at the feet of the seniors however. Physicians need to be aware that seniors remain sexually active and that in some circumstances, they may have multiple partners. They need to ask their senior patients about safe sex, and administer HIV screenings along with flu shots.
The bottom line is that seniors need to become educated about safe sex. They are the ones who can prevent sexually transmitted diseases from increasing in senior communities, and can ensure that they are tested regularly for STDs if they are sexually active.
Talking about these things with one’s aging parents can be very uncomfortable. That’s where LivHOME professionals can help. Our Caregivers receive ongoing education and training through LivHOME University and that means they can support families in caring for seniors whether it’s as easy as preparing a meal or as difficult as talking about safe sex.