The New Love and Sex after 60

The New Love and Sex after 60

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by Robert N. Butler, Myrna I. Lewis
     
 

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LIFE CAN BE RICH AND FULL—AT ANY AGE

You may be getting older but love and sex are still a vital part of your life. Here is the book that speaks to your concerns about sex beyond the middle years. Two leading experts have completely updated and revised the classic guide on the subject to address the needs of our changing world in the new millennium. Inside

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Overview

LIFE CAN BE RICH AND FULL—AT ANY AGE

You may be getting older but love and sex are still a vital part of your life. Here is the book that speaks to your concerns about sex beyond the middle years. Two leading experts have completely updated and revised the classic guide on the subject to address the needs of our changing world in the new millennium. Inside you'll find:

- The truth about aging and how it affects sexual desire and lovemaking
- A thorough guide to common medical problems—and solutions
- New drugs that can improve and enhance sexuality—including the latest on Viagra
- Research on post-menopausal changes
- A detailed look at the procedures for easing and solving sexual problems
- Practical strategies for finding new relationships and staying sexually fit
- Advice to help your adult children understand your new relationships

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Marvelous . . . [This book] helps women and men . . . attain what the authors brilliantly delineate as the second language of sex."
—BETTY FRIEDAN

"Everyone who is 60 (or older) should read this book.  Even I learned something!"
—ABIGAIL VAN BUREN

Library Journal
When this book was first published in 1976, a Florida newspaper refused to advertise it as "too prurient for the general public." Happily, the book became a classic anyway and has gone through several editions over 25 years. This update merely strengthens its credentials as the best all-around sex manual for older adults. There is thorough coverage of the standard topics: the effects of normal aging, medical problems, and drugs on sexuality and how to overcome roadblocks; physical and emotional sexual fitness; singlehood and relationships; sexual enhancement tips; dating, remarriage, and one's children; and finding help. This new edition incorporates same-sex relationships more equitably. In addition, readers are given permission not to be strongly interested in sex a refreshing change from the "super-orgasms can change your life!" approach of so many sex manuals. Lewis is a physician and head of the International Longevity Center, and Butler is a clinical psychotherapist. Both have other books on aging to their credit. For all public libraries, no excuses get several copies. [The previous edition was featured in "Sex Texts Come Out of the Closet," a collection development feature in LJ 10/1/97. Ed.] Martha Cornog, Philadelphia Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780345442116
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/29/2002
Edition description:
REVISED
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
221,968
Product dimensions:
5.52(w) x 8.22(h) x 1.02(d)

Read an Excerpt

The best authorities on whether love and sex can exist in later life are older people themselves. Frank and Marianne have been together forty-six years. They've led unremarkable lives in terms of success and lucky breaks and have had more than their share of tragedies. Yet in their late seventies they are enthusiastic, optimistic, and in love. Frank says of Marianne, "I love this woman more each day." Marianne replies, "I couldn't have asked for a better partner—he's kind, sweet, funny . . . he is everything a woman could want." Both are quick to add that it is their relationship that has been the core of their sense of satisfaction in life—and their sexual closeness is an indispensable part of their affection for each other. These two are not alone in their point of view. Any of us who has worked professionally with older people (or is older himself) could cite scores of examples of similar attitudes among older men and women, married or single.

Sound research data beyond the clinical observa-tions of those working with older people is another story. The United States lacks a truly comprehensive national survey of sexuality that encompasses the older population. The available information includes the important but now outdated and limited Kinsey studies (first published in 1948), the physiologic investigations of Masters and Johnson, and the findings of both the Duke Longitudinal Studies and the Baltimore Longitudinal Study on Aging. Questionnaire surveys of self-reported sexual activity among older people have been conducted by mail (for example, by Consumers
Union), but these provide information only on those who volunteer. Other studies have age cutoffs for their subjects, usually at sixty or seventy. The outcome is that facts and figures on the nature and frequency of sexual activity among older persons, including its association with marital and health status or any other variable in people's lives, are unknown.

One thing is certain, however. Our society is in the midst of an immense demographic change. Every day over six thousand Americans turn sixty.
Altogether, forty-five million people or one out of every six of us are sixty or older. By the year 2006 baby boomers will begin to dramatically expand the ranks of the older population as they themselves start turning sixty. In about twenty five years, one in five Americans,
including the boomers, will be over sixty-five—a historically unprecedented 20 percent of the population.

The definition of old age is changing. In June 2000, The New Yorker
Magazine ran a cartoon showing a woman announcing to her husband,
"Good news, honey— seventy is the new fifty." That same year a Harris
Poll found that only 14 percent of respondents believed chronological age was the best marker of old age. Instead, 41 percent cited a "decline in physical ability"—a highly variable event—as the best evidence of the beginning of old age. According to this definition, people in good health are younger longer, whereas anyone who gets sick becomes older sooner. As for disability itself, studies show that there have been significant declines in disability rates since 1982. Heart disease and stroke alone have been reduced 60 percent since 1950.

In light of all this, what can we safely say about sexuality in later life? Our views on this topic have not yet caught up with the slowly changing character of aging. Many people—not only the young and middle-aged but older people themselves—are quite uniformly negative about the prospects of continued sexual interest and ability. Many simply assume that the game is over somewhere in late midlife or early later life. They couldn't be more wrong. In spite of the scarcity of nationwide data, we turn to our own clinical and research work and the work of other gerontologists and researchers to demon-B strate that relatively healthy older people who enjoy sex are capable of experiencing it—often until very late in life. Frequently those who do have sexual problems can be helped.

We have written this book for those older men and women who are presently or potentially interested in sexuality and would like to know more about what is likely to happen to their sexuality over time.We will offer solutions to sexual problems that may occur, and propose ways of countering the negative attitudes that older people may experience—within themselves, from family members, from the medical and psychotherapeutic professions, and from society at large. We especially want older people to know that their concerns and problems are not unique, that they are not alone in their experience, and that many others feel exactly as they do.Even those people who have had a lively enthusiasm and capacity for sex all their lives often need information,
support, and sometimes various kinds of treatment in order to continue engaging in sexual activity as the years go by. In addition, people for whom sex may not have been especially satisfying in their younger days may find that it is now possible to improve the quality of the experience despite their long-standing difficulties.

Sex and sexuality are pleasurable, rewarding, and fulfilling experiences that can enhance the middle and later years. But they are also—as everyone knows— enormously complex psychologically. Every one of us carries with us throughout our lives a weight of attitudes related to sexuality that have been shaped by our genes, our parents, our families,
our teachers, and our society, some of which are positive and some negative, some of which we realize and many of which we are unaware.

Because of this, it is useful to understand what underlies so many of the attitudes and problems about sex that one encounters. If you are an older person, be prepared for the likelihood of conflicting feelings within yourself and contradictory attitudes from the outside world.
Should older people have sex lives? Are they even able to make love? Do they really want to? Is it appropriate—that is, "normal" or
"decent"—or is sexual interest a sign of "senility" and brain disease
(he/she has gone "daft"), poor judgment, or an embarrassing inability to adjust to aging with the proper restraint and resignation?

How much less troubling it would be to accept the folklore of cookie-baking grandmothers who bustle around the kitchen making goodies for their loved ones while rocking-chair grandfathers puff on their pipes and reminisce. Idealized folk figures like these are not supposed to have sex lives of their own. After all, they represent the parents and grandparents we all remember from our childhood, rather than fellow adults with the same needs and desires that we have.

As an older man or woman, you may find that love and sex in later life,
when they are acknowledged at all, will be patronizingly thought of as
"cute" or "sweet," like the puppy love of teenagers; but even more likely, they will be ridiculed, a subject for jokes that have undercurrents of disdain and apprehensiveness at the prospect of growing older. Our language is full of telltale phrases: older men become "dirty old men," "old fools," or "old goats" where sex is involved. Older women are depicted as uniformly sexless or sexually unattractive. Most of this
"humor" implies the impotence of older men and the ugliness of older women.

A mythology fed by misinformation surrounds late-life sexuality. The presumption is that sexual desire automatically ebbs with age—that it begins to decline when you are in your forties or even earlier, proceeds relentlessly downward (you are "losing it"), and eventually hits bottom
(you are "over the hill") at some time between sixty and sixty-five.
Thus an older woman who shows an evident, perhaps even a lusty, interest in sex is often assumed to be suffering from "emotional" problems; and if she is obviously in her right mind and sexually active, she runs the risk of being called "oversexed" or, more kindly, said to be clinging pathetically to her lost youth.

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What People are saying about this

Betty Friedan
Marvelous…[This book] helps women and men…attain what the authors brilliantly delineate as the second language of sex.
Abigail Van Buren
Everyone who is 60 (or older) should read this book. Even I learned something!
3Abigail Van Buren of "Dear Abby"

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