Sex and the Older Couple


Sex and the Older Couple

Helping Partners Reimagine Desire

By Regina Koepp

September/October 2022


My 87-year-old client, Cliff, who uses a rolling walker and is hard of hearing, has a penchant for plaid, button-down shirts—and sexual bondage. In an early session, I had to shout to ask him, “When you watch your BDSM porn, who do you identify with more, the sadist or the masochist?”

“Both,” he answered loudly yet calmly, as his wife, Lorena, shifted in her seat.

“I see,” I said. “Tell me more.”

In earlier sessions, Cliff and Lorena had admitted to struggling with communication difficulties during their 55-year marriage. Lorena prefers being direct; Cliff not so much. He has a laissez-faire personality, while she’s organized and task oriented. As we talked about their dueling sexual preferences—BDSM vs. missionary-style—I was curious about how their intimacy dynamics were reinforcing the wedge that had grown between them in their later years, and how we could work to resolve them.

As someone who’s specialized in working with older adults for more than 15 years, I’ve come to understand that other practitioners may not delve as quickly as I do into the sex lives of octogenarians. Like many in the general population, plenty of therapists have internalized the common misconception that at a certain point in our lives, humans are no longer interested in sex and intimacy. But much like Cliff and Lorena, many of my older clients are keen to maintain sexual connections.

A recent survey in Clinical Gerontologist echoes this reality. It found…

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Topic: Aging

Tags: Aging | getting old | Older people | sex



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