Intimacy is a close feeling between two people. It is not just sexual activity but emotional, social, spiritual, and physical connection. In our society there are stereotypes about older adults and intimacy and this makes it hard for older adults to feel that expression of sexuality is appropriate.
Studies show that 46 percent of men and 33 percent of woman over the age of 70 are still sexually active and that sexual activity in older adults is reported to be more emotionally satisfying for both genders. Despite these numbers, our society still continues to devalue older adult’s sexuality and considers sexuality the product of youth. These stereotypes influence older adults’ feelings of attractiveness.
Loneliness and isolation are a major problem in older adults. Intimacy has shown to prevent depression, improve self-esteem and even improve physical health. Intimacy is affected by loss of partner, disorders, lack of privacy, and lack of opportunities to engage in new relationships. Society should encourage opportunities to make intimacy easier for older adults, when appropriate, rather than make them feel ashamed or embarrassed. Families need to be especially mindful of their views on intimacy with their parent(s). Many times a parent has passed away and it is very difficult for families to accept their parent dating again or finding pleasure with a new person. There is also a common concern that their loved one is getting taken advantage of by another person. Families that are struggling with these issues could consult with a Senior Care Manager to assess the situation and help families work through these feelings.
Supportive services can help preserve dignity and improve intimacy for older adults. Supportive services can help people maintain personal hygiene so they feel better about intimacy. They can also provide transportation to allow older adults to be active and socialize with others their age.
If you or someone you know is in need of supportive services or Senior Care Management to help them stay connected to the things they enjoy, call Western Illinois Home Health Care at 800-228-5993.
Amanda Powell, BSW, is a Senior Care Manager at Western Illinois Home Health Care