Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Do you have an Advance Directive for Sexual Rights?

When do we lose the right to sexual expression? If we’re lucky enough to be active and independent now, we’re smart enough to realize that a time may come that we no longer can live on our own. What will you want for yourself? For your loved ones? How can you make sure that your wishes are respected?

Take some time to think about these ideas and questions:
  • When do we lose the right to sexual expression?
  • Does our right to sexual expression end if/when we can no longer live independently? If so, why?
  • Who determines whether we can still express ourselves sexually, and by what guidelines do they make that decision?
  • Do elders with dementia have the right to sexual expression? Who decides that, and on what basis?
  •  If staff members have a different personal belief about what’s appropriate sexual behavior (or non-behavior), do their values override our own?
  • If family members are uncomfortable with us having a sexual relationship, should their wishes supersede ours?
As uncomfortable as this might seem, I suggest you write down your personal policy about your right to sexual expression in your later years: an Advance Directive for Sexual Rights, let's call it. Then  share it with your loved ones. Just because you might be unable to voice your wishes when the time comes doesn’t mean you no longer have those wishes.

Personally, I want the right to decide when and how I want to be touched sexually -- whether by my own hand, a partner I've chosen, or a sex toy that they'd better not pry out of my arthritic hands -- for the rest of my life. Don't you?

If I end up living in a care facility, I imagine I won't submit to rules easily, unless they are as progressive as the Hebrew Home at Riverdale (NY), which has had a sexual rights policy since 1995, and updates it periodically. Until other homes catch up, it's up to us to make our wishes clear.

Have you written your Advance Directive for Sexual Rights? Here's a working draft of mine:

  • Make sure I have an outlet and batteries to keep my sex toys in working order.
  • Do not interfere with any warm connection I may be enjoying with any companion I choose, in any way I choose to express that connection.
  • If I’m involved with a sexual partner, make sure I have easy access to safer sex protection.
  • When I close the door—whether I’m alone or with another person—give me privacy.
  • If I’m still capable of sharing information about senior sexuality with residents and or staff, provide me with opportunities to do that.

What are yours?

[Excerpted from The Ultimate Guide to Sex after FiftyHow to Maintain - or Regain - a Spicy, Satisfying Sex Life by Joan Price]

Sunday, October 22, 2017

You and Your Boomer/ Senior Parent: Talking about Safer Sex

Do you have a parent who is out in the dating world? If so, this post is for you. This blog is normally aimed at folks age 50, 60, 70 and beyond. But right now I'd like to talk to the adult children of Boomers and seniors who are dating new people. My questions to you:
  • Have you talked to your parent about safer sex? 
  • If so, how did that conversation go? 
  • If not, was it because you didn't dare, didn't want to, or didn't have the words?
Arti Patel
First, a little background. I was interviewed extensively in "Seniors have sex – and the STI rates to prove it" by Arti Patel for Global News. This article addressed the rising rates of STIs among seniors in Canada, the reasons behind the rise, and what we can do about it. Patel wrote,

Joan Price, sex advocate and author of The Ultimate Guide to Sex After 50: How to Maintain – or Regain! – a Spicy, Satisfying Sex Life, says the reason why the community has high STI rates is simple: they’re not using condoms.

After this article came out, Kelly Cutrara interviewed me about this topic on Talk Radio AM 640 in Toronto. (I apologize for the call quality -- the interview request was too fast to get to my landline.) She asked me how the younger generation can talk to their single parents about safer sex. How do they get beyond the embarrassment? What words can they use? What if their good intentions backfire?

I suggested that this approach might begin the conversation:

"I know it's incredibly awkward to talk about sex with my parent, but Mom [Dad], we need to do this. What do you know about safer sex? Are you using condoms?" 

[Parent:] "What? Why are we having this conversation?" 

"Because no one else will, and I care about you. I know that STI rates are rising among your age group. I want to make sure you're protected." 

If you have been at either end -- Boomer/senior parent or adult child -- of a similar conversation, what did you say? What was the outcome? Or if you have another idea about how this discussion should go, we'd all like to know your thoughts.

Please share by posting a comment here, and include your age. (If you have trouble posting, email me with your comment and the name you'd like to use -- it doesn't have to be yours -- and your age, and I'll post it for you.)  Let's get this discussion going.