sex

What would you do if a nursing home dobbed on your ageing mum for having sex?

Joan Price is 71, she describes herself as a ‘wrinkly sex kitten’ and walks around with a tote that says ‘This Bag is Full of Sex Toys’.

It usually contains her shopping – but Joan does review sex toys on her website and blog. The bag is bit of shock treatment for those of us who just can’t deal with the concept of older people getting it on.

Joan’s mission started when she was 57 and fell in love with a 64-year-old man. “I was having hot sex and I couldn’t find a book that captured the sexual exhilaration we were having. So I wrote one.”

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Now Joan is on a mission to tell the world about senior sex. And when they stick their fingers in their ears and go la-la-la-la-PLEASE STOP, she throws the yuck factor back in their face, asking “when do you want to retire your genitals?”

Joan with her bag. Source: Twitter.

"We need to face the fact that when we look at wrinkly silver-haired people walking down the street you have no idea about what they’re doing behind closed doors."

ENOUGH OF THIS.

The CEO of Alzheimers Australia, Maree McCabe, says a loud and proud exchange about senior sex is needed.

"The concept of an older couple in their 80s holding hands or kissing one another on the cheek is considered to be a beautiful thing," she says. "In contrast, the concept of the same elderly couple having sex tends to make people uncomfortable."

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She believes the silence and stigma about sex is "causing a lot of guilt, depression and anxiety in relationships where one has dementia and families need to hear. This conference is all about getting over the ick and the la-la-la-la-la-la-la."

Her message: if you have ageing parents, get your fingers out of your ears.

Maree McCabe.

Maree forced her own children to listen up by asking them "What would you do if I was in aged care and you got a call from a manager saying I was having sex?"

Like many of us they reeled and said they never wanted to get that call.

"I told them to tell the manager that's none of their business."

Sex kitten Joan says there are a cocktail of concerns in her generation.  They range from not-quite-hard penises to a desire for the new and kinky. Getting older can be liberating, she says.

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"we are free of the constraints we grew up with. We grew up in sexually repressive times, grew up being told not to do it. There was no talk about the pleasure of sex ... but now we can (talk)."

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Joan acknowledges some people lose interest and says that's fine unless their partner is keen. But there is also freedom in untangling sex from our biology.

"We don’t have biological urge, hormonal urge and propulsion all the time, but there are still other reasons to have sex. In fact, to choose sexual expression when you're not driven by hormones is freeing. It’s about pleasure, intimacy, wellbeing - it’s not about biology."

Ita Buttrose Ambassador for Alzheimer's Australia

Ita Buttrose is urging an end to denial. The woman who bought us the male centrefold in the '70s refuses to stop talking about sex and intimacy just because she's now 70-something herself.

"The baby boomers are the most sexually experienced generation of all," she says. "Sex is an essential part of their lives and so is the need for sexual freedom."

She's heard of many cases where sons and daughters have intervened to stop their mother or father having sex in an aged care facility. But those care facilities need to think more about the sexual needs of their clientele even if they have dementia, Ita says.

"Health care professionals should actually ask people with dementia about their sexual needs. Not allowing individuals with dementia to express their sexual needs, possibly in the mistaken belief that they need to be protected, is surely denying them their fundamental right to be recognised as a person before the law and, dare I suggest, a significant failure of duty of care."

Of course, consent is important but there are ways of working out a client's capacity to make a decision.

It's just been announced that Erica Jong has written a sequel to Fear of Flying, her hugely influential book about female sexuality that has sold 27 million copies. Fear of Dying tells the story of a 60-year-old woman having casual sex adventures.

As the hugely influential baby boomers start to declare their right to sexual ageing, we are all going to have to get our fingers out of our ears and listen.

There will be many issues to confront and lalalalala just won't cut it anymore.

Will you be pulling your fingers out of your ear?