I don’t see any reason for not including sexuality in the book. Maybe elder triathlon champions won’t have earth (or bedpost) shaking insights into the topic, but it’s still good to have an opportunity to write about it!
As to the matter of whether sex is consequential or not in the later years of one’s life, I can’t speak for all but I can affirm in the strongest sense that it certainly matters to me. Maybe not as much as when I was 30, but it still matters. A lot.
I definitely think that we (not dead yet authors) are more interested in sex than our sedentary peers. We have more energy and stamina – all that vitality has to be expressed somehow.
Maybe older people don’t talk a lot about sex – or maybe some do, I’m not sure. If studies should indicate that elders generally do not, it might be because most elders are sedentary. Fit people at any age are likely to have stronger sex drives, better body images and, just maybe, more opportunities to engage in socially acceptable, politically correct expressions of their not-yet dormant lusts and fantasies.
Of course, this is just my opinion. To the best of my knowledge, I’m not an expert and I don’t know about these things from first-hand experience. I’m not even a sex therapist.
In summary, I have my doubts about whether the general public has any clue about how seniors think and act with respect to sex. Young people probably assume we lost interest and decided, like the widow in the infamous Monty Python organ donor scene in the Meaning of Life movie, that elders are too old for that kind of thing. I’m past my prime.
I don’t believe older folks lose eligibility for sex when they gain eligibility for Medicare and Social Security.
I don’t know whether I should even disabuse them of these notions. Maybe our editors Don and Jack should do so, on behalf of all of us.
Ha. I’m sure they will.
It’s well documented that sex can increase life expectancy. That’s reason enough to support the endeavor, is it not?
Sexuality among older folks is something people don’t talk about much. There is no age limit – and being an active athlete at 75+ most definitely enhances the possibilities.
For obvious reasons, the idea that older people (even older world champions) are the same as the young, only dressed in white hair and wrinkles, takes a hit on this one. However, the theme and attitude should be the same: go for the gold. If you have it, flaunt it -it’s what you do with what you have. Never give up and the worst sex you’ll ever have is still wonderful.
Can/should address the explosive subject of sexuality? That was a question put to all the senior world triathlon champions.
The response was overwhelming. Absolutely.
I said, in effect, the words put to music by John Fogarty (Centerfield):
Put me in coach, I’m ready to play today. Look at me, I can be centerfield.
So, make room. Stand back. We’re all too old to put up with nonsensical sexual misinformation and repression any longer. Let this topic through. Get the fuddy duddy stuff out of the way. This is one of the topics everybody at all ages cares about, although far too many have been crippled by repressive social norms, guilt-inducing religious dogmas and warped cultural backwardness to discover even the rudiments of healthy sexuality. Let’s come to the rescue – surely we figured things out in this regard by now. At 75+, we ought to have invaluable sensible advice to impart on all matters of sexuality.
Besides, youngins think we’re too old for that kind of thing – let’s knock their socks off.
AN ELDER SEXUAL FREEDOM CREED
For elders who desire sexual expression as much or more than the sexual pleasures they experienced or wish they had experienced in their youth, I recommend a sexual freedom philosophy or creed that embraces at least the following principles:
- No apologies, no furtive sneaking around, no guilt and no limitations on forms of sexual expression, provided of course that everyone else’s rights are respected and one engages only with consenting adults.
- Get smart – become something of a resource person for other older folks in your orbit.
- Eradicate the fears, falsehoods, limitations, negativity and repressive rules that society may have impressed on your thoughts and feelings about sexuality – subject such strictures to a reassessment based upon your current skills at self-determination, critical thinking, freedom from dogmas and disdain for dysfunctional customs. Rely for guidance on science-based facts, not medieval creeds and claims.
- Be the sovereign of your sex life. Everyone else, especially grown children, caregivers and of course any remaining clergy, will not be supportive of your having a healthy sex life. Do not tolerate such impertinence! Set everyone straight, in a nice diplomatic way, if possible, but do it in stronger terms, if necessary. Make clear it’s your body, your life and your choices, as long as you can still make them.
- Sexualality is not just for 20 – somethings, not just for women and so on – it’s everyone’s right, included elders. Attention everyone: Back off – this is your time and, by golly, shed any guilt or embarrassment that you plan to enjoy whatever’s left of it.
- Be more carefree than ever. Be free of caring about the judgments, real or imagined, of others.
- Avoid arguments – your interest in and commitment to continued sexuality is not up for discussion or a debate topic. You are unwilling to be restricted by the backward standards of conventional social norms that no longer have standing in your sense of successful aging.
- Find or create and nourish an elderly support group for emancipated sexuality – and interact with each other, thereby gaining support and reinforcement for your shared quality of life- enhancing creed. The group members will look up to and seek each other out for inspiration.
- Engage in educational and intelligent conversations about elder sexual freedom and create your own creed on the topic.
- Reach out and be of service to other elders about the subject of their own sexuality. Remember Ingersoll’s creed about the time, place and the way to be happy. Consider that the same idea may apply to enriched sexuality: the time – now, the place – here and the way – making others so.
FIVE THINGS I KNOW ABOUT SEX
- Just do it.
- If you have to read about it, you’re wasting your time.
- Why isn’t this in the FUN category?
- Proven to be bad for your back, maybe that’s why.
- But I’m glad my parents believed in sex.
I do think there is a place for exploring the subject of sexuality in Not Dead Yet. AARP and other magazines have had articles discussing sex by seniors, this idea should not be news or in any way upsetting for anyone.
The book subtitle should promise nothing less, as it does for success and happiness despite aging. I am a widow of long-standing (20 years) but have not been blind to possibilities of other relationships. I just haven’t found an appealing replacement for someone who, over the course of more than half a century, set a bar perhaps too high for any suitor to clear.
In the latter stage of life, sexuality is still a part of the life. Some of us like to talk about it, others view it as a private matter that is nobody’s business. The co-authors of this book, I believe, would be happy to write their next book on the topic, with illustrations and details of their life experiences relating to the topic. Thank you very much for the opportunity, but I am a proud graduate of the old school, the one that holds sexuality as a personal matter not to be paraded in public. If invited to give a speech on the subject, I will decline, no matter how prestigious the forum, regardless of how tempting the huge honorarium.
I will add this from I Cor. 6:19, 20 that has guided me through life. It has never let me down – Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
However, I will enjoy reading what my fellow and sister senior triathlon champions have to say on the matter.
A strict Catholic education and attendant value system informed by early years, a time when my sexuality was overflowing from within while suppressed and condemned from without. (Don’t even think about it and be guilty and ashamed when you do, which will be often, you little Satanist!)
Believe it or not, despite this sexually inhospitable climate, it was (as Willie Nelson might put it), always on my mind. There were, of course, outlets besides piety, devotions and fervid venerations, among the most socially acceptable were athletics, scholastics and ice baths.
My personal Enlightenment era did not evolve until I went into the Army and found myself soon thereafter stationed in Europe. Never mind Valhalla, El Dorado or other fictional utopias – this was the Promised Land with respect to the topic at this moment. It was quite a contrast from my Parochial beginnings, a transition as dramatic as going from Gilead not to Canada, but to the Playboy Mansion. Think Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Ode to Joy.
Liberation was mine.
Of course, I soon enough came to my senses in a balanced and fully mature fashion. I came to recognize that to fully appreciate the art and wonder of sexuality, I would need the solidarity, love and fulfillment most often, if not only possible for me, in the lifelong company of the right woman.
At this stage of life, it’s possible that my sex drive is not quite as active as it once was in those halcyon times in Europe,
Three cheers for sex.
Sexuality means different things to different people. For me, it’s a feeling. Feeling happy with who I am and being a woman. I want to look good for myself and others. I want to be the best that I can be, and be attractive to others, especially men. Sexuality can also be how you express feelings for a loved one. Sometimes you can love someone for years but your sexual expressions of love may wane over time. If you lose that person but are able to find a new love, there is nothing comparable to awaken dormant feelings of passion and desire. Your age doesn’t matter; it’s surprising how passionate and sexually active you can become. However, newfound glows can’t last forever, either, but there are ways you can extend being sexually active with your partner when age reduces ability. Having sex or making love doesn’t always mean intercourse. There are many ways you can pleasure each other. Just cuddling, especially skin to skin, can be a very satisfying way of expressing your love. Little things like hiding love notes is an effective, greatly appreciated way of expressing your love.
I guess what I’m advising is that you are never too old to feel and express your sexuality.
Homo Sapiens among us got hard-wired over the course of millions of years to act in certain ways. While random changes and undirected natural processes routinely succeeded in assembling functional human equipment for a range of uses and purposes, one drive overwhelmingly prevails or we wouldn’t be here, namely, the instinct to procreate. Whatever else might have evolved in trait or gene frequency in a population of organisms from one generation to the next, no shut-off switch ever signalled our kind or other extant life forms to lose interest in the ultimate drive to survive. procreation.
Which might explain why today, in the early years of the 21st century, an octogenarian like myself still has my neural synapses firing away. Needless to say, as a thoroughly rational modern man, I definitely have no higher brain function desire to start adding to the family I already enjoy.
Bottom line: Even at age 80, my hardwired brain constantly reminds me that, I am attentive still to the attractions and charms of the opposite sex.
These creatures, often difficult to fathom and not always predictable or easy to anticipate, remain one of if not the highest of all pleasures that in the past, and still today, attend my existence.
As Maurice Chevalier reminded Hermione Gingold (Gigi, 1958), this is a fact and I remember it well.
Nothing about me has so radically changed as my sexuality. From puberty to senescence, my sexuality seemed beyond my control. In youth, it was fanciful and fun, a product of raging hormones. Were it not for a little bit of luck complemented perhaps by divine intervention, it would have been miraculous to have emerged as I did from those days without adverse consequences. Well, maybe not entirely without such consequences – I still have an occasional guilty conscience.
Now, closing in on my 90’s, I’m thankful that my sexuality has taken new forms. While not so thrilling, it has more permanence than an overnight rush. My emotions today are founded on love and expressed in an ever deeper relationship with my precious wife of 43 years. my three children and a few close friends. Emotional fulfillment also is derived from extending acts of kindness through my ministries and I am blessed with a greater sense of spirituality based upon my faith.