Ageing plays an important role in sexuality
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The assumption that sexuality is the province of the young is more than just an outdated idea relegated to media clichés; it is simply wrong. Sexuality is a constant in all people’s lives. It does not turn on or off at a given moment or age, but rather continually matures alongside us, changing and shifting course with each passing year. Our sexual wellness and fulfilment is integral to general health, life satisfaction and well- being, and is something to be explored and enjoyed with Age.
Ageing plays an important role in sexuality, and the generations subsequent to the era of sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s have considerably modified their sexual values and behavior patterns. Carpenter, Nathanson, and Kim (2007) found that lower levels of satisfaction in older age stemmed from generational differences rather than from ageing per se. This transition will apparently continue in subsequent generations. In most Western cultures, discussing personal sexual behavior and practices can be uncomfortable at best. When turning the focus to discuss sexual relations among older adults, reactions can range from uncomfortable to horrified. The topic of sex among seniors is often dismissed as a non-issue, a joke, or a conversation that many would rather avoid altogether.
Existing and available data in that field have demonstrated that individuals who have enjoyed an active and healthy sex life throughout adulthood are likely to continue doing so well into their later years. It is important that caregivers (health and social care professionals) understand that sexuality plays also a vital role at 70 or 80 years of age.
In the next years, baby boomers who will reach the pension may prove a powerful force in driving the cultural and social changes that can enable superageing. Many researches in the field of ageing research and geronto-psychology are convinced that "baby boomers“ will change the paradigm of healthcare with innovative and alternative forms of care, to maintain and improve their physical and emotional health.
The ageing of Europe is a structural problem that requires big-picture from social innovators – in this light every innovation which benefits elderly in active ageing (well-being and happiness) is even more important than technological innovations. Our proposal will contribute to close this gap that still exists, by developing awareness raising materials that focus on sexual health education and individual needs of older people. Our target group are professions that are in contact with and trusted by this age group, such as general practitioners and family physicians, mobile nurses and community health workers, social workers, and the team of retirenment and nursing homes. The modular structure of the materials will allow them to receive information about those aspects of age and sexuality that are compliementary to their work; i.e. doctors and nurses will receive better insight into social aspects, social workers and counsellors will get an improved understanding of medical aspects to influence sexuality in older populations.