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Let's do away with the stereotype of older people as sexless. (From the Editor).

Up until the time I started going to the health club at 6:30 each morning--to keep this 50-plus body in shape--I watched the Today Show each morning as I dressed for work. They had a regular segment on "seniors" that had a tag line that said something about "enjoying life after 50." I always cringed when I heard it and muttered something like, "They don't know what they're talking about. People in their fifties aren't even thinking about being seniors. They're too busy living their lives." At least I was. And I still am.

So is my partner, Reggie, with whom I've lived for nearly 30 years. In fact, we're enjoying life more than ever--a both personally and professionally--and, we don't have time to even think about getting old or being "seniors." I think we're in the majority.

That's why I feel like I have to do something to dispel this stereotype that people in their fifties--or older--are over the hill in terms of their sex lives.

FACTS THAT HELP MAKE THE POINT

What better place to start than in the SIECUS Report to refute the stereotype that older people are sexless. Every article in this issue helps to make that point. Consider these facts:

* Nearly 62 percent of men in their fifties claimed to be sexually active, and 69.5 percent said they were either "very" or "somewhat" satisfied with their sex lives. A similar pattern prevailed for women. ("Mature Sexuality: Patient Realities and Provide Challenges" page 22.)

* "I am 58 and as horny as ever...the sex urge is still with me, not much different from my earlier years," said one woman. "Maybe I am too physically active and healthy. I can't seem to get it into my head that I am approaching a different time of life....There is little or no speaking about a situation like mine in books or media." ("Women's Sexuality As They Age: The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same," SIEGUS Annotated Bibliography on "Sexuality and Aging Revisited.")

* Late adulthood can be highly rewarding....Sex is an important part of this life stage for many older adults, and considerable evidence suggests that sexual activity continues throughout the life course. ("HIV and AIDS in People Over 50," SIEGUS Annotated Bibliography on "Sexuality and Aging Revisited.")

* The research on coping, life satisfaction, and social support refutes the image of the older gay man or lesbian as isolated and depressed. ("Gay and Lesbian Aging," page 16.)

* Many of us have remarked that often it is easier for preteens and teens to speak about some important matters (the "breakaway issues") with someone who is not their own parent--perhaps the parent's good friend or a relative. A grandparent can be ideally situated to help mediate this delicate transfer of power and responsibility from parent to child. ("Grandparents As Sexuality Educators: Having Our Say," page 30.)

BOOKS THAT HELP MAKE THE POINT

And then there are the many books in the SIECUS Annotated Bibliography on Sexuality in Middle and Later Life in this issue of the SIECUS Report that help to refute the stereotype that older people are sexless. Consider these:

* Gay Midlife and Maturity is a collection of articles that demonstrate--through formal research and personal experience--the diversity of gay men and lesbians. It discusses their aging from a positive perspective.

* Seasons of the Heart: Men and Women Talk about Love, Sex, and Romance after 60 is a book of personal stories about the sexual, romantic, and platonic joys of relationships after 60. One of the chapters is "Not the End of the Song: Love When the World Says 'No' and Elders Say 'Yes.'"

* Still Doing It: Women & Men Over 60 Write about Their Sexuality is a book of personal stories and experiences of women and men over 60 that is a testament to sexuality through the life cycle.

CONCLUSION

I'm proud of this issue of the SIECUS Report because I feel it has given us plenty of facts to refute the stereotype that people over 50 are past their prime in terms of sexuality and sexual relationships.

I hope you enjoy reading it and that you will use the information to tell others about the reality of positive sexuality in middle and later life.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Article Details
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Author:Edwards, Mac
Publication:SIECUS Report
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2001
Words:710
Previous Article:Welfare reform's provision for abstinence only until marriage programs. (Policy Update).
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