A caregiver’s main goal is to help their client or loved one navigate the physical and mental challenges they face as they age. Coming to terms with new limitations can be difficult for some seniors, so it is important to help them maintain a sense of independence whenever possible. In some cases, this could involve helping seniors who wish to remain sexually active maintain their sexual health.
Health issues and physical challenges that come with age can make intimacy more challenging for seniors, but that doesn’t always mean that they should have to give it up. In fact, sex can benefit seniors’ health, and making some adjustments to their sex routine can make maintaining a healthy sex life possible.
Read on to learn the benefits and challenges of intimacy for seniors and find tips for maintaining sexual health as they age.
The Health Benefits of Intimacy for Seniors
Intimacy can be a rewarding part of a relationship for people of any age, and neurotransmitters released during sex can also benefit seniors’ mental and physical health. This is especially important for aging adults who are at a higher risk for other health-related issues. Some of these benefits can include:
Decreased depression and anxiety
Lower blood pressure and better heart health
A stronger immune system
Reduced risk of developing prostate cancer in men
What Affects Sexuality as You Age
Understanding how sexuality changes with age is the first step for seniors who wish to remain sexually active. Medical conditions like arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure dementia and chronic stress can all negatively impact sexual function. The medications used to treat some of these conditions can also impact sexual response, so it is important to discuss any side effects related to sexual function with a healthcare provider.
Decreasing hormone levels can also affect sexual function in both men and women as they age. Below are some of the most common changes that occur as a result of lower estrogen or testosterone levels.
Changes in men caused by lower in testosterone in men
Difficulty producing or maintaining an erection
Longer recovery time in between erection and/or ejaculations
Changes caused by lower estrogen in women
Decrease in sexual responsiveness
Painful sex caused by thinning of the vaginal walls (vaginal atrophy)
Lack of energy
Difficulty reaching orgasm
If your client is experiencing any of these problems, encourage them to get in touch with a healthcare provider. Doctors can recommend or prescribe several products and medications to help relieve symptoms.
Once seniors know what their limitations are, it’s much easier to find solutions that work best for them. Here are some tips for maintaining a healthy and fulfilling sex life for older adults:
Communicate with your partner about needs and limitations.
Change your routine and expand your definition of sex.
Practice healthy habits to maintain your overall health and libido
Consider visiting a sex therapist
Get STD tested before becoming intimate with a new partner
Practice safe sex