Sex therapist’s tips for an active love life for seniors

NOBODY likes to think that their parents are still having sex, but the truth is your grandparents are still at it — and they’re probably better at it than you are, says sex therapist Bettina Arndt.

“Younger people find it difficult to imagine older people having sex — it is the hangover from that heaven forbid the thought my parents still do it,” Ms Arndt said.

“But believe me it can actually get better as you get older.”

While many assume that older generations are embarrassed to talk about sex, Ms Arndt said it was far from the case.

“I would far prefer to talk to an audience of 70 year olds than 30 year olds. The Baby Boomers now in their 60s and 70s were becoming adults at the time of the sexual revolution and many welcomed the new freedom to talk about sex,” she said.

“Many are far more sexually liberated than today’s young things who imagine themselves to be so cool about it all but are actually quite embarrassed about talking about the nitty gritty.”
The eastern suburbs-based former clinical psychologist is hosting a forum called the Joys and Trials of Sex and Ageing at Woollahra Council chambers as part of the NSW Seniors Festival.

Alex Comfort’s famous book The Joy of Sex written in the 1970s should be an inspiration for older people to talk openly about their sex life.

In the book Comfort writes: “The things that stop you enjoying sex in an old age are the same things that stop you from riding a bicycle — bad health, thinking it’s silly and no bicycle”.

“That sort of sums up the things I will be focusing on, the health problems, the issue of older men and their flat tyres and the women who might need a bit of WD40 … and the no bicycle problem which is a major one as a lot of older people end up on their own.”

She argued that there had “never been a better time” for Australia’s ageing population to find new bedfellows, with online dating a “miracle” for the elderly.

And there’s plenty of proof to back her statements.

“I’ll be talking about a man I know in Melbourne, he’s 84 and met his 80-year-old partner online.

“They both decided to use online dating because it was the safest way to connect with people in a gradual way.”
The woman lives on the Gold Coast and she was the one who contacted him. He responded, they emailed and skyped for three months and then he fly to the Gold Coast to meet her.

He got off the plane, she took one look at him and said, “That is my destiny”, Ms Arndt said.

Proving age is no limit, some of our elderly are juggling more partners than people in their 20s.

“I have an online dating client in Melbourne, who, much to my surprise, has been juggling three men,” Ms Arndt said.

“She’s well into her late 60s and is having a whale of a time. She was widowed for many years and is now discovering how much she enjoys sex, particularly now that there’s no one in her life to tell her that what she is doing is wrong.”

But in saying that not everybody is able to maintain a sexual flare into their later years, Ms Arndt said.

“I will talk about the issues of being single, being on your own and not having any opportunity for intimacy,” she said.

“I will also be talking about issues related to being in a relationship as you become older, what changes you can expect and how you can adapt to them.”

A big cause of strain in relationships for the elderly is “mismatched desire”.

“There are an awful lot of older women who have shut up shop, who aren’t interested in sex, while many of their partners might still be raring to go. That’s a major cause of strain in relationships.”

Bettina Arndt will speak about sex and ageing on Wednesday from 3.30pm to 4:30pm, at Woollahra Council’s chambers in Double Bay.
Bettina Arndt’s tips to maintain a good sex life:

? For lasting sexual intimacy you need to keep talking, communicating your changing needs

and finding new ways of caring for each other and giving pleasure.

? Good health is also vital to an active sex life. Keeping fit, not putting on weight and avoiding

smoking helps keeps the juices flowing.

? Men — if your equipment starts to fail, talk to your doctor. This health warning needs

checking out to protect you from future heart attacks and strokes. Plus there are good

treatments to help restore your sexual functioning.

? Women — there’s plenty you can do protect the ageing vagina and avoid painful sex.

? It’s never too late to find new companions, a nice warm hand to hold or perhaps much

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