SEXUAL HEALTH FOR SENIORS
Recently, CRR was asked to come and talk to an ‘over-55’ community about sexual health for seniors. Our Project Coordinator, Jessica Perry, researched and prepared a worksheet of information to share as part of this talk. For this month’s spotlight post, we are featuring some of the information gathered and compiled by Jessica around the topics of safe sex and online dating practices for seniors.
SAFE SEX FOR SENIORS
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are increasing among older Americans, with STI rates doubling among 50 to 90 year olds in the past decade. Here are some facts to be aware of:
- 53% of people between the ages 65 – 75 and more than 25% of people between 75 – 85 are still sexually active, according to a 2007 survey.
- It is easier for seniors to catch STIs because of their lowered immune systems and menopausal effects on women like the thinning of vaginal walls.
- It is also harder for doctors to detect STIs among seniors because symptoms, such as worsening eyesight and arthritis which are caused by chlamydia and gonorrhea, can often be attributed to aging and as a result can go undiagnosed and untreated.
- Medicare started covering annual STI screenings in 2011.
- The number of HIV diagnoses in people over 50 has doubled between 2000 and 2009.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports significant increases in STIs between 2010 and 2014 among adults 65 and over:
- Chlamydia infections increased by 52%.
- Syphilis infections rose by about 65%.
- Gonorrhea cases increased by more than 90%.
- 27% of new AIDS diagnoses in the US in 2013 were among people age 50 or older.
If you are recently widowed or divorced and are beginning to date again, here are some recommendations to help protect yourself from STIs.
- Talk It Out: A recent study found that 38% of men and 22% percent of women have discussed their sex life with their health care provider after reaching the age of 50. Silence limits honest patient-doctor conversation, which decreases your access to health information. Talk to your doctor about your sexual health concerns.
- Get Tested: Be your own health advocate and ask to be tested for STI’s and HIV. You can get tested at your doctor’s office or at public testing locations which are listed at org.
- Choose Safe Partners: Choose sexual partners who you can have open and honest conversations with about sexual health. Discuss HIV/STI testing and safer sex practices before the lights go out.
ONLINE DATING SAFETY
Below are some safe practices around online dating:
- Meet for coffee or lunch in a public place.
- Don’t let anyone walk you to your car.
- Don’t give out your home phone number or address early in a relationship.
- Never let a stranger pick you up at home.
- Inform someone of the details of your date and let them know that you will call them when you are back home safely. This way they will expect your call and take appropriate action if they do not hear from you.
- Carry cash so that you have options in terms of leaving early, transportation home etc.
- Keep it light. On the first date look for compatibility. Do not reveal significant personal details about yourself.
- Be wary of online dating scammers. Do not give money to anyone you meet through an online dating site. There are scammers who use these sites to prey on and take advantage of people.
Written by: Kacey Dean, MC, CSAT (C) & Jessica Perry