Not long ago at a local bookstore where I usually begin each day with a few friends over coffee, a young female employee in her early 20s with whom I exchange morning pleasantries, asked how old I was. “Going on 70,” I replied, waiting for her to compliment me on how young and buff I looked. Instead, she hit me with a follow up question: “Now that you don’t have sex anymore, what do you do for excitement? She was serious! I told her that I “still have lead in my pencil,” gave her a wink, and went about my business.
However, in the weeks that followed I began to think about when I was in middle school and the thought of mom and dad having sex, (then in their “old” 40s), was gross. Even when I became a young adult, the idea of my mom and dad doing one another was tough to take. Let’s face it. Children, thinking about their parents engaging in any kind of sexual activity, freak out!
While sexual mores and attitudes generally have become more liberal in our culture over the past few decades, the idea that men and women in their 60s, 70s and older can still have fun, be passionate, and enjoy exciting, fulfilling and loving sex is still hard for many to imagine as my young friend at the book store will attest. Sadly, this is also true for “seniors,” a platitude for older Americans, and this book is written for them.
The reason for this gap between perception and reality is, in part, because ours is a culture of youth. But this, too, is changing: We are living and working longer, have a better understanding of the importance and need to eat healthy and exercise, all of which is beginning to change our biological and chronological clocks.
George Burns, the beloved entertainer who was still going strong at 100 years of age said, “Everything that goes up first must come down. But there comes a time when not everything that’s down can come up.” We know this is not necessarily true for the young or the old because former Senator Bob Dole told us so on prime time national television!
There are 77 million baby boomers who are now 64 years old, so don’t think for a second that when you hear loud booming sounds in the sky that it’s only thunder. It may be the bed boards banging as America’s seniors enjoy a healthy, warm and active sex life.
As I approach my 70th birthday, sex is still important and my wife and I enjoy a very active and healthy sex life. I believe sexual energy is more a function of health rather than age. This wonderful intimacy spills over into our leisure activities, our work and our relationships with friends. Due to changing and challenging times many seniors are working longer which further emphasizes the changing sociality of aging and senior sexuality.
Sexual change is more difficult than changing jobs. When it comes to sex in this country, there are a lot of taboos. We need to change our attitudes towards sexuality as we age.
There seems to be a perceptual and emotional gap between young and old over sexual vitality and sexual expression, which, in itself is wrong. Don’t judge me just because I have wrinkled skin, grey hairs or no hair at all. Senior sex can be energetic, thrilling, sensual, disturbing and sometimes just plain weird.
All of us have many unspoken feelings about our real or perceived sexual inadequacies. What better time to experiment?
A 2007 study of 3,000 adults published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that half the people aged 65-74 and a quarter of those age 75to 85 reported being sexually active. (Defined as “any mutually voluntary activity with another person that involves sexual contact whether or not intercourse or orgasm occurs”). “A substantial number of men and women engage in vaginal intercourse, oral sex and masturbation even in the eighth and ninth decades of life,” the study’s authors concluded.
I predict, that before long, the next version of Carrie Bradshaw and her friends in “Sex and the City” will take place in an upscale independent living retirement community, and that Mr. Big will be a tall, athletic hunk who celebrated his last birthday at 100.
In closing, this book was written with a serious underlying purpose, but hopefully in a light hearted, tongue n cheek, and somewhat edgy way. The purpose is to encourage the renewal of sexual intimacy for men and women who, for whatever reasons, have lost this need or desire upon becoming “seniors,” and to provide them with suggestions on how to get their groove back. Human touch is essential to flourish emotionally and physically at any age. For readers who have not broken stride in their sex life, these pages may bring a tell tale smile or, better yet, teach a few old dogs some new tricks!