- Men using erectile dysfunction drugs engaging in sex with post-menopausal women (without fear of pregnancy) can increase unprotected risky sex
- Significantly fewer older men are available, so women in an effort to please (and keep) a partner have risky unprotected sex
- Older people are now using online dating and thus are relatively unfamiliar with their partners and their sexual histories
- Many of today’s “Baby Boomers” came to maturity during the sexual revolution of the 1960s/1970s and are now reverting back to their previous risky sexual behavior
- A lot of seniors were already married when sex education gained prominence and therefore missed the “safe sex” talks and never learned “safe sex etiquette”
- As people age their immune systems tend to weaken making them more susceptible to contracting ANY disease – including STD’s
- Seniors, because of embarrassment, are less likely to discuss sexual issues with their doctors – which can further lead to the spread of STD’s
- Many doctors don’t think to test seniors for STDs as a standard examination protocol
Stopping the spread of STD’s in the elderly
Individually or in combination, the reasons above can lead to the spread of STD’s amongst seniors. In the short-term, what’s more important than why STDs are spreading is what needs to be done to slow or stop the progression. Here are a few quick thoughts:
- Seniors should be getting the same basic “safe sex” education as young people (learning about STD’s and how to recognize the signs, how they can complicate other existing chronic medical conditions, and most importantly the proper use of condoms)
- Doctors should inquire about sexual activity with seniors as they do with teenagers and younger adults
- Information on detection and treatment options need to be well publicized to aging populations (e.g., Medicare provides free STD screenings and low-cost treatments)
- Distribute free condoms in places where seniors live and congregate
Whatever the reason or the chosen solution, the critical first step is having a conversation with your loved one and educating them on the dangers of having unprotected sex.
After years of consulting, providing professional advice and caring for the elderly, Derrick Y. McDaniel, a recognized expert in the eldercare industry, an attorney and former NYU professor, has composed a resource tool to help everyone who cares for their aging loved ones. Eldercare, The Essential Guide to Caring for Your Loved One and Yourself is a book that answers all the tough care giving questions that most people do not know to ask. Visit MrEldercare101.com for more information.