A Sexy Romance with a Sad Ending

Askew Family 1956 via ElderAuthority

ElderAuthority Takes on Sex

In case you haven’t noticed, I have been writing a lot recently about seniors and sex.  No, ElderAuthority has not sold out to the porn industry.  Rather, I have received enough inquiries on this topic to make me do my research.  There is much all of us can learn about seniors and sex.

Having written about the benefits of sex for seniors, sex positions for seniors, and reasons seniors have more fun with sex, I though it was time to put some of my own thoughts into the mix, rather than just writing clinical reports.  Today’s article is about my parents and their sex life.

Mom and Dad Had Lots of Sex

Lida and Gene 1948 via ElderAuthority

It was no secret in my family that my parents enjoyed a happy sex life.  Over the years, both of them talked about it enough for it to be clear that they had something good. They certainly had their bumpy periods, but they also had a hot romance for nearly sixty years. I think it was what  kept them together through thick and thin.

When we were very young, they would take occasional three-day trips away, leaving us with a sitter (The Evil Mrs. Goodrich).  As I recall we all acted out terribly and triggered the wrath of the sitter on a number of occasions.  From the time they could leave us without a baby sitter, they took every opportunity to go out on “dates” with each other.  During our formative years, the parental romance did not always seem so great to the five kids.

In my 20’s and 30’s I spent a lot of time resenting the parental relationship that deprived me of appropriate attention during critical moments (or at least that was my perception).  From time to time over the decades I got the impression that the parental sex life continued to march forward valiantly.

Timex Sex (just keeps on ticking)

Flash forward to the year 2005.  My father had a quadruple bypass which triggered vascular dementia.  He also had skin cancer, prostate cancer, and diabetes.  He becomes much more dependent on my mother and struggled with short-term memory.  My mother, who had Parkinson Disease, did her best to take care of the daily business of life that allowed them to continue living in the independent living section of their retirement facility.

One day, when we were talking about all the things she was juggling she said, “…and your father is as sweet as he can be, but he always wants to have sex…the problem is that he forgets we already had sex today and wants to do it again.  I can handle once a day, but more than once is really getting in the way of the work I have to do.”  I had no suggestions for her.  In fact I was totally speechless.

Understand the Proposed Treatments for Your Loved Ones

Lida and Gene 2007 via ElderAuthority

A few years later, Dad’s prostate began to cause continence issues for him.   I went with him and Mom to the urologist who suggested that he could be treated by drugs that would lower his testosterone and probably diminish his sex drive. My father really did not follow much of the conversation, but Mom and I made the decision to leave his sex drive alone.  We very clearly and carefully told the doctor to not treat him if it would affect his sex drive.  Taking away his sex drive would be like pulling the plug on his life force.

Unfortunately, like my father, the urologist did not follow the conversation very carefully.  He still administered a drug cocktail.  Whatever it was, my father’s sex drive ceased to exist, and he died within a year at the age of 86.  I think this was one of the saddest moments in Dad’s life.  He never knew what was taken from him, but we saw his inner light shut off.  He could have continued having memory-impaired sex to the end and would have died a much happier man.

I don’t know what we could have done differently to prevent this.  We knew the doctor had given Dad something, but we did not inquire as to what it was since we thought we had made our wishes clear.  It makes me sad every time I think about it.

 

Senior Sex Top 10 Benefits

Image by Macnolete via Flickr

Sex is good for us.  Here are ten reasons why.

#1 Reduces Stress, Improves Heart Rate and Blood Pressure

Sex moves major muscle groups, improves cardiovascular fitness, reduces stress, and burns calories.

Hearts and Candy
 (Photo credit: Rdoke)

Several studies suggest that having sex regularly can protect against cardiovascular problems. One British study found that men who reported having three or more orgasms per week experienced 50% fewer heart attacks than those who had fewer.

Diastolic blood pressure tends to be lower in people who live together and often have sex. Women who get lots of hugs from their partner tend to have better blood pressure.

#2  Fights Incontinence

Sex muscles work similarly to Kegel exercises, the floor muscle exercises women do to prevent incontinence.

#3 Improves Immune System

Researchers at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, PA, found that having sex once or twice a week boosts the immune system. They found a 30 percent increase in immunoglobulin A (IgA) in people who had sex once or twice a week, compared to those who didn’t have sex.  IgA proteins act as antibodies, binding to pathogens when they first enter the body and summoning the immune system to destroy them.  These are the proteins which protect you from getting colds and other infections.

#4 Reduces Pain

The elderly are more likely to experience aches and pains. Oxytocin stimulates endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, which is why sex can bring temporary relief from back pain, arthritis, migraines and other body aches. Happily, orgasm sends oxytocin, the love and intimacy hormone, into your system.  Oxytocin released during orgasm promotes sleep.  Oxytocin enhances bonding, reduces fear, and can increase feelings of generosity.

#5 Enhances Mood Without Drugs

pooheadbob

Sex unleashes a wave of feel-good endorphins that help ward off depressive symptoms. “When you have good sex, there’s a relaxation response and a satiation response…you lie there and life is great,” says Dr. Irwin Goldstein, a urologist, the director of sexual medicine at Alvarado Hospital in San Diego, California,  and editor in chief of the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Much of that is due to chemistry—the rush of hormones and neurotransmitters that rise and fall during sexual activity.  Arousal boosts dopamine, which activates the brain’s centers of craving and reward.  Oxytocin enhances bonding, reduces fear, and can increase feelings of generosity.

# 6  Promotes Youthful Skin and Longevity

Having sex several times a week on a regular basis can make people look four to seven years younger.  Sex increases blood circulation, which helps pump oxygen to our skin. Regular sexual activity has prolonged effects and can actually make us look younger. Sex boosts our natural collagen production, which staves off age spots and sagging. The same sex-triggered hormones that make your skin glow also make your nails strong.

Other studies suggest that having sex extends life in general. A study in the British Medical Journal found that men who had sex less than once per month were twice as likely to die in the next 10 years than those who had sex once per week. A 25-year study of 270 men and women aged 60 to 96 conducted at Duke University found that the more men had sex, the longer they lived. Women who said they enjoyed their sex lives lived seven to eight years longer than those who were indifferent.

# 7 Provides Testosterone Boost

Frequent sex may benefit men’s health by increases testosterone, which in turn is linked to stronger muscles, more energy, and better cognition.  Women also benefit indirectly because semen contains testosterone, estrogen, prolactin and prostaglandins, which can pass through vaginal walls into the bloodstream and elevate mood.

# 8 Prevents Cancer

A 2004 study having the most frequent ejaculations had a much lower risk of prostate cancer than those reporting fewer.  A 1989 study in France found that women who had sex infrequently or not at all had three times the risk of breast cancer compared to those who had sex more frequently.

#9 Maintains Sexual Energy

Having sex actually boosts your self-esteem.  Regular sex maintains sexual energy that flows into all areas of your life.

Firework in San Jose
 (Photo credit: mrjoro)

Many ancient traditions view sexuality as something sacred and spiritual.  When we merge with this power during orgasm, some believe that we are connecting to the deepest parts of ourselves, our non-physical aspects. Not only do we gain a deeper sense of ourselves, but we can experience an energy that feeds other areas of our lives. Many who think of sex as a spiritual practice report they have a stronger sense of self and of their relationships.

# 10 Provides $100,000 Worth of Happiness

Having sex regularly makes people happier than earning more money. A study done by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that marriages with frequent sex left couples feeling as happy as earning an extra $100,000 annually.

Have as much safe sex as you enjoy.  It is good for you.

 

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