Myth: Let’s Take an Intimate View

So many erroneous beliefs exist today about the exterior and interior lives of people over fifty.
It is truly laughable, as a person in her early 60’s can attest to. Whether in the general
knowledge or from the media, cultural myths about older adults and the aging process have
held tight in the public’s imagination for decades.

Please don’t spit out your weekend morning coffee when you read this one. This is one of my
favorites. First of all, how old is a senior citizen? Many consider a person a senior citizen at 55,
however, AARP considers you senior citizen age at 50. So, we seniors over 50 have basically
stopped being intimate because we are too old, have fallen apart, or are just not interested.
Well, I am here to call that wrong. More than ten years ago, the highly respected and
conservative, New England Journal of Medicine released a ground-breaking study on older adult
intimacy with the following facts:

73% of people ages 57-64 reported being intimate with a partner within the last year

53% of people ages 64-75 reported intimacy with a partner within the last year

26% of people ages 75-85 are intimate with a partner (Bravo to them!)

To add more spice to these illuminating statistics, these folks reported they have a roll in the
hay two to three times a month! Since this initial study, several others have confirmed the
NEJM report, further obliterating the myth that older adults don’t experience intimacy.
Variations of this myth go something like this: physical challenges keep seniors from
connecting; there is nothing seniors can do to get their “groove” back, and my favorite,
intimacy is dangerous when you reach a certain age.;-)

One additional note to highlight how far from reality this myth lives, STDs in nursing homes has
risen at an alarming rate in the last few years. So much so that many nursing homes around the
country (and around the world) are implementing programs that educate older adults on the
importance of safer intimate relations and the use of condoms.
I think that just about says it all.

Until next time….Be Vibrant!

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