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Remaining sexually active in later life is good for our overall health and wellbeingas well as our cognitive ageing ; and increasing evidence shows that people can and do remain sexually active well into their 80s and beyond. Due to increasing s of later life divorcesmany older Australians are re-partnering in later life and looking to online dating or apps like Senior Next to help. The problem is that research in by dating site RSVP.
Older men are less likely to use condoms than younger men and older women are less likely to refuse sex without a condom than younger women. The reasons why are unclear but it appears to be related to low levels of sexual health knowledge coupled with inadequate sex education historically, meaning that few older adults are aware of safer sex practices and the protection condoms can provide. As a consequence, sexually transmissible infections STIs in older populations are rising. For instance, the of diagnoses of chlamydia, gonorrhoea and infectious syphilis in Australians aged 60 increased by almost 50 per cent between While the s are relatively low compared to other population groups, they are likely to be under-reported because of issues of stigma, and because STIs can show no symptoms, or the symptoms can go unrecognised by both older patients and their health professionals.
Another important consideration is that sexual difficulties like maintaining an erection, lack of sexual desire or problems with lubrication increase in later life. Older patients may therefore not be receiving the care they need simply because these issues are not being discussed by them or their GP. We undertook the Sexual Health and Ageing, Perspectives and Education SHAPE series of projects to investigate attitudes to sexual health discussions in general practice and to identify how we can encourage these conversations to happen more often, and more effectively.
We started by asking 21 older Victorians about their experiences of discussing sexual health matters with their GPs. We also asked 27 Victorian-based health professionals GPs, practice nurses and practice managers about their knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding the sexual health of older patients. We found most health professionals had limited formal education about ageing and sexual health, apart from a focus on dysfunction.
They also thought it was vitally important that sexual health and wellbeing was embedded as part of their routine care, and no more unusual than things like blood pressure monitoring or flu injections. For those older people who had talked to their doctors, their experiences had been less than satisfactory, with some GPs dismissive or condescending in their attitudes.
We also asked older patients and key informants what kind of support could help these conversations happen. The majority were in favour of using some kind of resource to guide the discussion, suggesting it could help build confidence on both sides.
An electronic checklist was seen as suitable for older patients because of its ease of use and anonymity. Older patients welcomed the opportunity to use this kind of resource within clinic waiting rooms, provided the information was given directly to doctors and not via reception staff.
Next, we set out to investigate the content, format, language and tone of a sexual health discussion checklist in consultation with older patients. We tested a draft version of the checklist in both digital and print formats with focus groups of older Australians, receiving positive feedback on how easy it was to use and understand. The next phase is to test the acceptability of the checklist in general practice clinics and we are currently seeking funding for this. Digital interventions or aids have gained popularity in GP clinics in recent years and are already being used to facilitate discussions, particularly about difficult or sensitive topics.
Our SHAPE checklist has the potential to become another tool available to GPs, to help start breaking down some of the old-fashioned and debilitating taboos about sex in later life. Pursuit home All sections. Share selection to:.Old grannies for sex s Malta
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