Sexuality and old age
Wylie KR., Wood A., McManus R.
Sexuality in older people is a multifaceted field of study. Ageing may offer opportunities for and restrictions on sexuality. Ageing individuals may have increased time for and may wish to explore their sexuality, for example, by considering a same-sex relationship, after a long-term partner dies. However, they may also lack a partner or autonomy. They may develop or have increased symptoms from chronic diseases. Consequent medication may affect their sexual functioning. Their attitudes to sex often change and their capacity for sexual activity may diminish unless they seek help. However, they may lack the confidence to do so and the health professionals consulted may be disinclined or ill-equipped to assist them. They may have concerns regarding how their sexuality or their sexual orientation would be perceived should they require residential care or start to lose their memory. We consider the recent work relating to this broad range of influences on sexuality in old age and conclude that, whilst the challenge for researchers is to accurately clarify the impact of individual factors on sexuality and identify helpful potential interventions, increased academic and educational focus on this area is enhancing the prospects for a sexually enjoyable old age. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.