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SEX AND GETTING OLDER: ISN’T SEX IMPORTANT?

Old age is a time of life that is poorly understood by the young and in many respects feared. It is viewed by many as a very negative phase of life; a time of loss and grieving … for youth, for agility, for missed opportunities, for a spouse or friends who have died, and of facing the inevitability of your own death. Others see it as a very positive phase. With fewer responsibilities you can use that freedom to explore new opportunities, while being a source of wisdom and stability for your family.

One of the myths about getting older is that sex is not important to the elderly. In fact, not so long ago, it was simply assumed that if you were getting on in years, sex was out of the question.

Society has now largely come to grips with the concept that sex is for recreation as well as procreation, clearing the way for the attitude that even though you might be past childbearing (a stage many of us have passed mentally if not physically by the time we are thirty-five), you can still expect to have a fulfilling sexual relationship if you want, and learning about sex can be a lifelong process. Jack is now sixty-eight. ‘When I was a lad, I thought I knew it all. In retrospect,’ he said, ‘I knew bugger all. There was no contraception when I was growing up. Being experienced meant going as far as you possibly could without getting the girl pregnant. I’m not ashamed to say that I’m now a better lover than I’ve ever been. I’m sure I could tell my grandchildren a thing or two if they dared to ask!’

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