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The Scoop on Seniors and Sex

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Recent trends in sexual activity among seniors indicate that the taboo topic of seniors and sex can no longer be ignored. Not only can sexuality assist in combatting loneliness and depression as we age, but statistics show that most seniors are more sexually active than their families and care communities realize.

So what are seniors saying—or not saying—about sex?

They Have It
A study by the New England Journal of Medicine reports that over 25 percent of seniors aged 75-85 are sexually active. The number rises above 50 percent for seniors ages 65-74. Whether or not senior sexual activity is being candidly discussed within families and health care settings, the statistics are clear: many seniors are having sex.

Their Children Aren’t Asking About It
Sex and dating are, quite literally, the last thing adult children want to talk about with their senior parents, according to results from a survey commissioned by Home Instead Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care® network and summarized on Only a third of adult children reported that they are even the least bit comfortable with the topic. The percentage of seniors who are sexually active and the hesitation of most families to discuss this activity suggest a dangerous communication barrier when it comes to seniors and sex.

They May Not Be Aware Of The Risks
Perhaps most staggering is this statistic cited by CBS News: Sexually transmitted diseases have more than doubled over the past decade in the 50-90 demographic. The assumption that all seniors are aware of the commonly known risks associated with sexual activity is false. Senior baby boomers originally became sexually active at a time when facts about STDs and safe sex were not as readily available as they are today. Add this to existing challenges, such as lack of privacy in community living, and the question of seniors and sex becomes quite complex.

What Does This Mean For Senior Care Professionals?
The realities of seniors and sex suggest that professionals in the elder care community need to begin an open and frank discussion with seniors and their families about seniors’ needs for physical connection and emotional intimacy. This is no easy task, but there are helpful resources available. One resource you may encourage seniors and their families to use is the 40/70 Guide. This guide provides discussion tips and strategies to start those difficult conversations. The 40/70 Rule® refers to the respective ages of adult children and their senior parents when they should begin to talk about various aging topics.

It’s also important to acknowledge the role that living situations play in protecting a senior’s privacy and independence. Aging in place resources may be key in retaining an environment where both physical and emotional needs of a senior can be met. Visit to learn more about how home care services can help seniors retain their independence.

Last revised: December 13, 2013

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. February 18, 2019 at 1:57 pm | Posted by Betelihem Ergetie

    The realities of seniors and sex suggest that professionals in the elder care community need to begin an open and frank discussion with seniors and their families about seniors’ needs for physical connection and emotional intimacy.


  2. July 16, 2015 at 12:12 pm | Posted by Helen Cambron

    Yes, as a Nurse Practitioner for a large multispecialty Neuroscience Clinic ( survery, oncology neurology and endocrinology) I think that one thing people forget is that senior adult sexual activity is a normal part of aging. Healthy adults should expect to be able to participate in sexual activity as long as physically capable.We don't routinely ask these questions when this subject should be as routine as bowel habits and diet.One area that is not focused on is post menopausal needs to continue to keep sexual organs functioning and capable of participation. You cannot go years without using the equipment and expect that it will still function the same and have the same capacity if it has been 10 years since you last had sex-- and you need to see your gynecologist/ Urologist/PCP who can help with this aspect of aging and treatment was well as maintenance which can include a physical, oral medications for both sexes, vaginal creams and dilators to restore physical capacity.Sexuality is a normal life experience and should be looked upon as something that promotes overall well being and health and is a basic human need. We need to get over archaic fears and embarrassment and realize that the good news is that our lives can be very fulfilled into our 90's and beyond.


  3. December 19, 2013 at 3:31 pm | Posted by Eileen

    Didn't know if you might find this useful for January presentation.


  4. December 19, 2013 at 9:03 am | Posted by GFHarris

    My private practice serves seniors, developmentally disabled adults, spinal cord injury & traumatic brain injury clients. Sex continues to span across all populations yet many caregivers & facilities are not well prepared to address in a positive way. This needs to change.Sex in the aging is alive & well. I have an 83yo client who still reads romance novels & recently purchased her 2nd vibrator....I was not aware she even had a vibrator. Her comment re romance novels, "Honey, if they're not getting laid by the 4th or 5th chapter, throw it out as it's not worth your time." Good to know, now if I only had time to read romance novels.....


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