In your reply posts, identify the consequences if sexual health among aging adults continues to be ignored. Additionally, discuss whether there is concern for future generations of older adults who lack sexual health knowledge and awareness.
Your reply posts should be 100 to 150 words, with a minimum of one supporting reference included.
The prevalence of sexual stigmas in older adults is a concern for the lack of overall well-being of an individual. Although there are multiple factors that come to play in sexual stigmas there are two that I found most interesting from reading Syme and Cohn (2016). One is that older adults are not as likely to seek help for sexual concerns. This may be attributed to embarrassment, unawareness of sexual problems and/or discomfort talking about sex, and stigma-related beliefs with their healthcare providers. Research shows that declines in erectile function in men and the ability to become sexually aroused in women were significantly associated with depressive symptoms, and lower quality and satisfaction with life (Jackson et al., 2018). The other stigma is that older age groups are more conservative about their attitudes towards sexual activity outside of marriage.
One interesting statement that helped me understand where stigmas originated from in this article is regarding generational beliefs. Perhaps the natural shift from the silent generation to the baby boomer generation may alleviate some sexual stigmas among older adults. This is possible because baby boomers were advocates of the 1960 and 1970s sexual revolution, they pushed the boundaries of sexual expression and relationships, even baby boomers who did not participate in the sexual revolution and lived the expected heterosexual monogamous marriage life no longer conform to these social norms as older adults (Freak-Poli, 2020).
Topics related to sex are often uncomfortable for healthcare providers to initiate. Some research suggests healthcare providers are concerned about offending older patients and nurses felt concerned that they may jeopardize professional relationships by discussing sexual issues (Taylor & Gosney, 2011). As healthcare providers we need to be aware of stigmas, so we may break down barriers through education, training, and allowing time to discuss sexual issues. By doing so we may be able to support open dialogue with the elderly regarding sexuality and sexual activity. This must include discussing the risks of unprotected sex, unwanted sexual advances especially in the setting of dementia, and healthy maintenance of relationships among elderly clients or patients through open communication.
In the study conducted by Syme and Cohn (2016), I found it to be interesting there was more stigma among the aging population than in the other two age groups studied. My thought would be the younger age group would have more stigmatic relationships towards the aging population due to stereotypes, generalizations, and being more judgmental. Attitudes towards older populations can be changing while older populations still have the same beliefs from when they were younger. Another interesting point made by the authors was “aging stigma is present within health care institutions” (Syme and Cohn 2016). The goal of any health care worker should be to treat and address the needs of their patients in a manner that is free from judgment and stigmas. Patients trust their health care workers to treat them with the utmost care. This article explained how there are different factors as to why stigmas exist amongst the aging population when it comes to sex. Age, gender, race, income are factors that may influence how one views sex and seniors. The authors detailed how health care workers are able to combat this issue in a way that is applicable to any provider. A leader in a residential health care facility should take charge by providing workshops for the staff on how to address sexual relationships that exist in the facility. The workshop should combat any stigmas, assumptions, and judgments that exist in any of the providers. Ageist stigmas should not be tolerated in the facility. Health care workers can learn communication skills on this topic in the workshop and know what health screenings a patient who is in a sexual relationship needs. It should be a standard that health care workers ensure their patients are engaging in healthy relationships by having discussions with the residents and holding informational meetings. When residents are having their physicals, a questionnaire can be given regarding their sexual history and if they would like to discuss it with their provider. Brochures can be given out to residents on how sexual relationships at their age is healthy and ways to be safe when pursuing relationships. Challenges can arise when having discussions because the residents may be embarrassed to have a conversation or have a fear of being judged. It can also be uncomfortable for health care workers to have those discussions.