The physical deterioration that is almost inevitable with ageing (unless you are Madonna) can make people feel less confident about themselves and their bodies.
The idea of old people having sex and going to couple counselling doesn’t sit well in a culture obsessed by youth and beauty – but they do, and it should. Age doesn’t stop people wanting more out of life, but finding help with sex and relationships is not easy when you are in your seventies or eighties. Age UK say that “many people find it difficult to accept that people in later life have sexual desires. These negative attitudes are common in people of all ages and can lead to older people being embarrassed to talk about sex and/or seek help. However sex, is one of the ways we show our affection to the person we love and the ability to do this does not disappear with age.”
Intimacy is fundamental to wellbeing but the physical deterioration that is almost inevitable with ageing (unless you are Madonna) can make people feel less confident about themselves and their bodies. When everything starts to go south it can be difficult to feel ‘sexy’ and if that insecurity is compounded by illness of immobility, it quickly becomes an excuse to let the sexual side of a relationship die. In truth men and women can carry on having sex till they kick the bucket and the more sex they have the fitter and healthier they will be in. Even stroke victims can carry on having sex as long as they are fit enough to climb a flight of stairs without getting out of breath. The only proviso to this advice is that it ought to be sex with the primary partner. Doctors are not sure whether it is stress, excitement or more athletic sex, but those with a tendency to strokes are statistically more likely to have one if they are being unfaithful.
In terms of positions, Spoons is probably the least strenuous. It doesn’t allow for particularly vigorous thrusting but it can be very intimate and is the best option for people recovering from illness or surgery, or for those who have bad backs or stiff joints. Doggy position on a mattress using pillows as bolsters is also good for those who can’t exert themselves too much. And those who need additional support might want to investigate sex furniture ranges such as Liberator. Though they are primarily designed for sexual experimentation they are the perfect prop for aging bodies.
While medical treatments can address individual physical difficulties such as erectile dysfunction or lower libido, they can’t help with issues affecting relationships such as mismatched libidos or even anger and disappointment. Marriages, especially very long term ones, require maintenance and older people who find themselves having relationship difficulties should get help sooner rather later from institutions such as Relate or BASRT. Embarrassment about seeking help may be one reason that the divorce rate is falling in every other age group, but is actually increasing in the over sixties.