Two years ago I wrote about the Sex, Age & Me project that we had launched in Australia. It is a national study of sex, sexual health, and relationships among older people led by the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, and funded by the Australian Research Council.
The project team has been very busy and we are now in a position to update you with what we have found. We have published a broadsheet of key findings and recommendations.
These are around: knowledge of sexually-transmitted infections (STIs), safer sex behaviours, and STI testing; learning about sex in later life; talking to healthcare professionals about sex; and ageism and sexual activity (more papers are underway).
To summarise, our research:
– shows that many older Australians are sexually active. Some are dating and forming new relationships;
– suggests that a greater focus on the sexual health needs of older Australians is needed, including education and support for those at risk of STIs, inclusion of older people in sexual health policies, and better training for health and aged care providers.
We have included an evidence-based set of recommendations for those who work with older people and/or in sexual health and related services. Here’s one of my favourites:
The older population is heterogeneous, with a diversity of sexual expressions. Some do not wish to have sex, and having sex may not matter to all older people. It is important for health and aged care service providers to provide an environment in which older people feel comfortable talking about sex if they wish to, including the feeling that they are not being judged with regard to whether or not they are sexually active. It is also important that sexual interactions that older people experience are wanted and consensual.
Why not check out our broadsheet and let me know what you think in the comment box below?