Exploring the Psycho-Social Attitudes of Older Adult Sexuality: Cultural Myths, Misinformation, and Misconceptions

The World Health Organization defines personal sexual health as: “… a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled (WHO, 2006, p. 5).”

Aging is a natural part of living process and sexuality operates on a continuum. Sexuality does not simply dissipate as an individual goes through the aging cycle. Normal aging brings psychodynamic changes (e.g., social, physical, spiritual, emotional, cognitive, somatic) in both men and women. Many of these changes can impact an individual’s holistic sexual functioning (e.g., sexual health and wellness, sexual self-schema/sexual self-esteem).
The context of human sexuality can be viewed as a result of the delicate balance of emotional, social, and physical issues. Sexual functioning and sexual intimacy have the potential to be impacted as a result of many specific organic and biological health factors. Furthermore, a positive holistic perspective may help to avoid further perpetuation of damaging myths, misperceptions, and misunderstandings of mature sexuality (specifically concerning the sexuality of older adults 50 years and older) globally.

Many sexual problems/issues of sexually active older adults require assistance (e.g., counseling, consultations, treatments) from helping professionals. An improved understanding of the connection between natural aging and holistic sexuality (e.g., spiritual, psychosocial, intimate relationship satisfaction, biological, and physical health) can help professionals (e.g., physicians, clinicians, therapists, counselors, etc.) better serve older adults with sexual issues and concerns. It is the investigators hope that the results of this study can help to dispel negative sociocultural attitudes of concerning adults 50 years and older in the United States. Improved professional knowledge of treatable sexual problems/issues could help to ameliorate patient counseling, consultation, and education.

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