Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Intimacy, Sexuality and Dementia by Peggy Brick

BrickOne of my favorite sex educators, Peggy Brick, a true ground-breaker in the sexuality and aging field, has turned her remarkable talents to teaching about dementia. I invited her to guest blog about this urgent topic. As always, I invite your comments. -- Joan

Intimacy, Sexuality and Dementia

By Peggy Brick, M.Ed.

What does it mean, “We’re sexual from birth to death,” when faced with the growing specter of dementia? Will the nation acknowledge that over five million of its citizens with Alzheimer’s and other dementias have intimacy needs and rights? Will families, friends, professional caregivers, and institutions respect the sexuality needs and rights of individuals who are increasingly unable to care for themselves or respond to others in conventional ways? Will they learn how to connect by listening, touching, hugging, respecting, and loving the person who remains?

Preparing to Love Someone with Dementia: 8 Ways

1. Dementia is part of today’s reality: if you’re lucky enough to live to be 85, there’s a 50 percent chance you will experience dementia. Now is the time to become an advocate for more research, education, care services, and progressive public policies.

2. Since currently there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s, do your best to prevent or delay it by promoting brain health through regular exercise, a heart-healthy diet, social connections, and brain-stimulating activities.

3. If you’re concerned about someone’s memory, get it checked -- first by a primary physician, and then a psycho neurologist. Early diagnosis is key to getting support and planning for a future living with inevitable diminishments. Later, making choices becomes impossible.

4. Read books and view films to understand the experience of dementia. People diagnosed with Early Alzheimer’s have written powerful stories about their feelings and their relationships. Richard Taylor, author of “From the Inside Out” created a powerful DVD challenging the stigma. Many caregivers have revealed their struggles and survival techniques.

5. Stay connected with a person with dementia by meeting them where they are. Learn either the “Best Friends” or the “Validation Therapy” approach that dementia care programs use to help caregivers accept the person’s reality in ways that reduce anxiety and encourage communication.

6. Recognize that dementia profoundly affects partner relationships. A well spouse often experiences decreased attraction after assuming caretaking duties such as bathing and toileting. As the disease progresses, people may no longer recognize their partner or believe they’re someone else.

7. Sexual expression is especially important in a nursing home when physical contact may be a beneficial means of communication, serving to calm and reassure. Ask whether a home you are considering has a sexuality policy that documents residents’ sexual rights, adequate staff training, and abuse prevention strategies.

8. Most caregivers experience loss and grief as they interact with someone who is both there and not there. Unlike a death that is final, this loss continues, often for years, and is difficult and exhausting. You must take care of yourself, which is challenging – but essential -- when you who love and care for someone with dementia.

Peggy Brick- Peggy Brick, M.Ed., teaches “Alzheimer’s: New Perspectives” at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, University of Delaware, and is the founder of the Sexuality and Aging Consortium at Widener University.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Original Magic Wand + Accessories

You've read so many vibrator reviews from me where I say, essentially, "It's good, but it's not the Magic Wand." Time to tell you exactly what is the Magic Wand.

The Magic Wand has been around since the 1970s, almost as long as I've been having vibrator-assisted orgasms, and it's been responsible for a good many of them. It was called the Hitachi Magic Wand until recently. (I reviewed it here.)

Now, after Hitachi sold distribution rights to Vibratex, it's the Original Magic Wand. Hitachi still manufactures it, but doesn't want its name on a tool for female orgasm anymore, if I understand right. Vibratex rescued the Wand from being discontinued, which would have led to dire and ugly consequences.

So the new Magic Wand is called the "original," probably to assure us that it's the same product (it is -- thank goodness!) and to distinguish it from the knockoffs that rattle around. Don't be fooled. Buy it from a reputable retailer.

The two models are identical in these ways:
  • The strongest vibrations of any popular sex toy.
  • Two intensities, labeled low and high, but actually high and yowza-high.
  • Big -- a foot long, with a head the size of a tennis ball. 
  • Heavy. Noisy. But you won't care once you feel what those vibrations can do.
  • Need to be plugged in. A hassle, but that's what a motor this size requires.
  • Really, really stimulating. (Did i already say it?)
  • Silly diagram for how/where to use it, ignoring the real reason/location that we're using it.
  • Oh yeah, it's a great massager for sore muscles, too, and we do get those.

 Here's how the models are different:
  • Controls have different appearance and the new one has a more ergonomic feel.
  • Vibratex says the new one will last longer (the old ones lasted 20 years!) and is quieter (not that I can tell).
  • The head is made to be a little lighter and last longer.
  • Several internal features have been upgraded to make it work even better.

Now here's another cool idea -- if you like the Magic Wand, but you'd like to subdue the vibrations a little, or have a way to turn your Wand into a penetrating toy, check out the Pop Tops and the G-Spotter. These are silicone attachments that fit on the Magic Wand and add versatility.

I tried the three pictured. I like the soft, cushioning layer that the Pop Tops give the Wand and I love the ease of washing them. But they did diffuse the strength a little, and personally, I want all the strength I can get.

The G-Spotter was a surprising pleasure. The whole attachment vibrated strongly but not wildly, and not in a pounding way that I would not have enjoyed. The little bump that's supposed to stimulate the clitoris while the G-Spotter is inserted did not land right for me, but it might for you.

To get one on, just stretch it apart and push and pull a little for a perfect fit. (Don't put lubricant inside the attachment or it won't stay put as well. Do use plenty of lube on the outside, though.) It removes easily when you're ready just by stretching and sort of peeling it up and wiggling it around. It's easier than it sounds.

These accessories also make clean-up easier. You can't remove the Wand's head for cleaning, and you have to be careful not to get anything wet but the outside of the head. You can't sterilize it, so it's not wise to share it with different partners. But with these attachments, you can pop one on, use it at will and with whomever, then pop that top off. Being silicone, these attachments are nonporous and can be washed easily with toy cleaner or in the dishwasher.

You can get any of the attachments separately, or in a kit with or without the Wand. See the options here. Enjoy!

I bought my original Hitachi Magic Wand in the 1970s, and it lasted a shockingly long time -- decades! -- until the head started to get hard and discolored. Good Vibrations sent me a new Hitachi wand in 2009, which is still going strong, but of course I owe it to you, my readers, to review the latest model.

Thank you, Good Vibrations, for sending me the Original Magic Wand, plus these delightful accessories.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Iroha: Cutest Vibrators Ever

The Iroha Rechargeable Silicone Vibrators from Tenga are adorable and cushy. I want to cuddle and squeeze them. And yes, they're dynamic little vibrators, and they work!

It's hard to imagine one of these without being able to touch it firsthand, so I hope my description helps: The vibrator has a cushy layer, covered by a body-safe silicone skin. It's not soft through and through (there's a motor in there) -- just a layer -- so you can press firmly and feel just a little cushioning, or press lightly, and it all feels soft. Delightful.

You can choose from three distinct styles:

Midori is green, sort of egg-shaped with a nubby protrusion. The big part stimulates the whole vulva if you lay it cushy side down,or you can elevate it and position the nub directly on top of your clitoris. The nub is harder than the rest of the Midori for more targeted pressure and less cushion.

Yuki is white, figure-8-shaped with a smaller and larger end. Again, you can lay the whole thing down over your vulva and get stimulation everywhere. Or you can press the smaller part shallowly into your vaginal entrance. Some might scoff at how small the penetrating part is, but for those of you with vaginal pain and/or tightness, it could be just right for pleasure without pain. Yuki doesn't have any hard parts -- it's all cushy, with some parts especially soft. This was my favorite and seemed the most versatile, though your mileage will vary.

    Sakura is pink, oval-shaped with a flexible, V-shaped, squishy notch that can hug the clitoris. It looks like you could use the notch to pinch a nipple in a stimulating fashion, but you really can't with lubed fingers -- too slippery. Try it dry for nipple play. Well lubed, it does hug the clitoris in a lovely way if you just position and press. This was almost my favorite.

    All styles have these lovely qualities:
    • The whole thing vibrates. It doesn't matter how you position it, whatever touches you is vibrating.
    • It's easy and ergonomic to hold. No wrist tweaking, just cup it (control side towards the hand) and press, glide, rub, tap, or circle on your vulva. 
    • The controls are large and easy to see and use. You won't turn it off by mistake. Your lubed finger may slip off the button, but it's still much easier than most.
    • It's self-charging with an elegant charging base and storage lid. Charge it by USB or plug it into an electrical socket with the provided charger.
    Yes, of course I wish these were stronger. I always wish that. The settings take them from gentle to medium to strong, plus a pulsation pattern. For you, strong might be plenty strong. The older I get, though, the more intensity I need.

    But I've also discovered the pleasures of using a toy that feels as good as these softies do, then upping the ante at the very end with my Magic Wand. Just a suggestion for those of you who, like me, need a long time and lots of intensity, but enjoy the feel of a soft toy like one of these.

    I love how long these vibrators last before losing their charge! I couldn't believe the claims that it kept a strong charge for 90 minutes. "Maybe on the lowest setting," I scoffed. So I tested Midori's duration by letting it run on the highest setting until it stopped -- a full hour and five minutes! Granted, it lost some intensity long before it actually stopped, but still, that's a long time for those of us with slow-burning arousal!

    Use plenty of water-based lubricant, especially with post-menopausal, thinning tissues. Otherwise, the silicone skin starts dragging or pulling on vulvar skin and pubic hairs. Lube is your constant companion anyway, right?

    I'm glad I read the itty bitty directions in the accompanying manual and the "Water-resistant, do not submerge" on Good Vibrations' Iroha page, because I would have guessed it could be taken into the shower or tub. Nope -- although it can be cleaned in water, it doesn't like hot water or staying wet or humid.

    Keith Haring Tenga Eggs front coverThese Iroha toys are designed for vulvas, though of course they can used by any gender and any external erogenous zone. Tenga makes terrific products for penises, too -- that's their specialty. For the holidays, the fellows will enjoy the Keith Haring Tenga Eggs with Haring's lively dancing figures etched into these fine masturbation sleeves. They'll bring a smile when they're unwrapped!

    Thank you, Good Vibrations, for sending me these sweet toys to review!

    Monday, December 09, 2013

    Oh, oh, oh! Good Vibes giving away one Limon!

    Update: Contest is over. We have a very happy winner!

    Did you enjoy my review of the Minna Limon? Do you wish you had a Limon of your own to squeeze right now? Do you wish you could give one as a holiday gift for a partner or pal?

    Hurry -- enter this contest that the wonderful Good Vibrations is sponsoring, and one Limon could enter your world and rock it!

    How to enter: Please email me with "Limon contest" as the subject header. Answer this question in 100-200 words:

    What  problems -- health, relationship, emotional, or other -- were preventing you from having a joyful sex life after age 50, and how did you solve or work around them? 

    Requirements: You must be age 50 or above (partnered or solo, any gender or orientation) and living in the US.  By entering this contest, you're agreeing that I may quote what you write in my upcoming book, The Ultimate Guide to Sex after Fifty, to be published by Cleis Press in December 2014.

    Absolute deadline: Entries must be received by 10am Pacific Time this Friday, 12/13/13. I know that's quick, but GV tells me that I need to choose the winner that day in order for you to get your prize in time for Christmas. Contest is over. We have a very happy winner!

    Other stuff you'll want to know:
    • Don't worry about spelling, grammar, style -- I can fix all that.
    • I'll choose the winner completely subjectively, based on my personal "wow" factor and my conviction that readers will find what you say useful and interesting. 
    • If I use what you send me, I won't use your name or identify you in any way, nor will I ever share or abuse your email address.
    • Flattering me, begging me to choose you, and telling me why you want the Limon probably won't help, but then again, it might. Go ahead and cajole me, coax me, offer to send me chocolate.

    Thank you, Good Vibrations, for this and for so much more!

    Tuesday, December 03, 2013

    Minna Limon: Cute, Squeezable Vibrator

    I like my new Minna Limon so much that I'm starting to think of it almost as a pet rather than a product.

    It's cute, touchable, squeezable, fun to play with, and responsive.  But no, it's not a pet -- it's a vibrator, and it's a delight. This is a great gift for a loved one, a pal, or yourself.

    It works like this: Power it on with the button, then squeeze the sides of the Limon. The harder you squeeze, the stronger the intensity. I love this idea!

    The Limon is squishy soft on the sides, but the little bud at the tip is firm. If you want a firm touch on your clitoris, use the tip. If you like the vibrating squishiness all over your vulva, use it side down.

    You can hold it with your hand, or squeeze it between your thighs, mostly hands free. (I say "mostly" because it will skitter out of position unless you give it a hand from time to time.) Just be careful to position it so that you won't accidentally press the control button.

    You can even record a pattern. It's easy. One press of the button powers on the Limon, a second press sets it recording. Do any pattern of vibrations and intensity that you want, for example, "quick-quick-cha-cha-cha-slowwwww" or gentle-stronger-INTENSE" or any pattern that appeals to you. Then do one more press to lock in the pattern. Now it will loop your pattern until you press again to unlock or hold down the button to power it off. (Once you do that, you'll have to re-record the pattern next time you turn it on.)

    If you don't want to record patterns -- no problem. One press turns it on, and from there, just freestyle away. 

    I wasn't sure, though, how I could accomplish my goal: a steady vibration at the highest intensity. I could squeeze hard to get that intensity, but did I have to keep squeezing hard (my arthritis said, "No, please!") -- or could I program it to keep the strongest vibration going continuously without any more squeezing?

    I emailed Jon, one of the founders of Minna Life, who responded quickly:

    Your question about constant speed vibration is a good one. Yes, we designed Limon to make this very easy. Here's how you create a steady vibration:

    1. Put the device in "Free Play" mode (only the power light will be on, such as right after you turn it on).

    2. Squeeze Limon to your desired intensity. Strong, soft, or anything in between.

    3. While squeezing to your desired intensity, do a slow double click of the button. Then you can stop squeezing. This puts Limon in "Lock Mode" with your desired intensity being looped.

    That's it! Just double click the button while squeezing in Free Play mode.

    It worked! Now I can just gently hold the Limon in place for as long as I want while it vibrates on the strongest setting, with no arthritic stress at all.

    What else do I like about the Limon?

  • USB rechargeable (it sits on a magnet base and lights up as it charges).
  • Made of body-safe silicone (use a water-based lubricant).
  • Tiny and light for travel opportunities (best to put it in checked luggage rather than carry-on -- we don't know what the security folks will ask, or whether they'll believe us if we tell them).
  • No fumbling with controls with lube-covered fingers if we want to change the intensity -- just keep it in Free Play and squeeze away.
  • Holds its charge for a long time.
  • Waterproof, so arousal can start in the tub or shower.
  • So cute you'll want it on display. 

  • What do I wish were different? 

    You know me -- I like really strong vibrations. Many of you tell me that the intensity I like is more than you need, so ignore that comment unless you're also a turbo power vibrator user. 

    If you do need extra strength, don't write off this lovely sex toy, though. Use it for a long, slow arousal, then switch to finish off with your most muscular vibrator if needed.

    I've reviewed it here as a solo toy, but Limon can also be used in partner sex in many different ways. Happy exploration!

    Minna wants to give my blog's readers a 10% discount 
    on the Limon or the Ola (reviewed here).  
    Enter "JoanPrice" as a discount code at Minna's online store

     [Minna Life provided me with a free Limon in return for an honest review.]