There is no off switch…

older couple in bed

Most humans are sexual beings… There are photos/ultrasounds of unborn babies touching their genitals in the womb. We are sexual from inception till the day we die. There is no ‘off switch’ for feeling sexual either.

From the time we are born the world around us, and especially our parents when we are young, feeds us information about sex, gender and reproduction. Some are brought up in modest families, those to whom nudity and sex talk are frowned upon. And at the other end, there are families who go to nude camps for the holidays and talk openly about sex, reproduction, gender variance and everything in between.

For most people our early family life lay somewhere between these two extremes. Our early learning regarding these areas of life can have a profound effect on us as we are growing up. Especially as we enter our teen years. It can be a difficult time for many as we move from being a child through to being an adult.

But most of us know about that transition…

What we are not talking about and planning for are our twilight years! As I mentioned above, there is no off switch, no age where you just wake up one day and no longer feel sexual. Of course how you feel about sex and what you do about it change and evolve with the passing years.

For many women the intense sexual urges fade after giving birth, in favour of nurturing their new born. And again when the baby making years come to an end, things change again. Physically, a woman will usually lose the natural lubrication she had while fertile. Even during arousal those juices just don’t flow like they used to. For the majority of women who orgasm from clitoral stimulation, the ability to orgasm will remain unchanged till death.

For guys it is a little different, the feisty hormone Testosterone only takes a small dive… and a very gradual one at that. Many men can get and keep an erection well into their 70’s. Their desire for intercourse does not fade much, and whilst they can still get a decent erection, most want to make good use of it! Once the ability to get it up enough to have vaginal penetration sex is gone, many men feel their sex life is over. Orgasm without an erection is possible, it is more a psychological barrier at this point.

So what happens to those who still want sexual contact and are physically unable or deemed by others to be ‘past it’?

In our aging population this is going to become a bigger issue. Nursing homes are not built with private time in mind for its inhabitants. The staff are not equipped with the skills to deal with sexual oldies.

Speak to anyone who has worked in an old age facility and they will tell you all sorts of stories about raunchy rendezvous between their residents.

For most of us right now, it may seem like something so far away, it is not to be given any thought. But think about how you feel right now… for those of us in our 40’s and 50’s, we don’t really feel like we are any older than we did in our 20’s. So most likely this feeling will not change much as we age.

Imagine being told by a 20 something nurse in your aged care facility that you are not permitted to touch another resident, not allowed to snuggle up in bed with them, not allowed to be naked with them. Even if you are both consenting adults!

This situation will become more and more of an issue over the next 20-30 years, with our aging population, lack of facilities and qualified, empathetic staff.

The solution…? There is no easy solution… If you are deemed unable to make decisions for yourself, and staff let someone join you in bed that other person could be charged with assault, and the staff would be in big trouble too. There are very few of these facilities that cater for private intimate time, so if you are ok, but your partner needs 24 hour care and therefore living in one of these places, you will not be able to share your body with your spouse and best friend without the ridicule and judgement of the staff.

We need a complete over haul of aged care and it needs to include some ‘private time’ rooms.

You may wish there was an off switch if you ever find yourself in this situation!