u07d2 Aging Changes

Identify and discuss at least three physical changes that occur in men and women that are the result of aging. Discuss how each of these changes might affect the sexual activity and sexuality of an older adult.

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The graying of America has summoned a substantive effort by sociologists, government agencies, medical professionals and financial pundits to determine the impact of aging on American society and institutions. It is estimated that by 2030, elderly individuals will nearly double to 65 million people and comprise 20% of the U.S. population (Kausler & Kausler, 2001). There are three primary areas that are chief characteristics of aging and late adulthood that have a significant effect on sexual health: 1) Deterioration of health and functional abilities, 2) Psychological disorders and dysfunctional behavior, and 3) Loss of social networks. Maintaining good health is challenging but absolutely critical in late adulthood. The immune, cardiovascular, respiratory and organ systems begin to breakdown during the aging process making one more susceptible to chronic illness and disease. Two areas of significant physical decline are visual acuity and joint problems that can lead to arthritis. Sexual health and desire are also significantly affected by the physical aging process. Obviously for aging men and women, physical disabilities and illness may result in a significant loss of sexual functioning and response. In women, physical changes are concurrent with the decrease in estrogen production. Consequently the vaginal walls grow paler and thinner, and decrease in size making penal entry and coitus more painful. Post menopausal symptoms produce less vaginal lubrication causing additional discomfort and pain during coitus. Estrogen replacement therapy can help resolve some of the negative physiological changes in women (Rathus , Nevid & Fichner-Rathus, 2004). In men, similar hormonal dissipation may cause erectile dysfunction, loss of sexual desire and decrease in sperm production. However, in the absence of serious illness or disability, sexual experience changes are more emotionally salient than physiological (Kontula & Haavio-Mannila, 2009). Cognitive decreases in fluid intelligence represented by declines in mental processing speed and working memory are characteristics of late adulthood. These declines in cognitive abilities also have a psychological component and may cause depression, anxiety and affective comorbid pathological disorders as a result of the self awareness and self monitoring of declining cognitive functional ability. Research indicates that decreased sexual desire is related to self-reported negative emotional and psychological feelings such as lower self esteem, insecurity and loss of femininity (Hartmann et al., 2004). Sexual inactivity and loveless relationships among married elderly couples may be due to past unresolved psychological issues. Unresolved anger from past relationships, divorce, the use of certain medications and diminished income status may also lead to a decrease in sexual desire.

2004). sexual aids and alcohol all contributed to increasing sexual desire. enjoying the most recent sexual experience and having a health partner (Kontula & Haavio-Mannila. & Ruffer-Hesse. Heiser. use of pornography. The graying of America: an encyclopedia of aging. 2009). Philippsohn. L. whereas sexual problems among men are more closely related to physical health deterioration and aging. elderly individuals with a regular sexual partner often report that they consider their relationship to be happy with a sufficient amount of closeness and touching (Kontula & HaavioMannila.. The Impact of Aging on Human Sexual Activity and Sexual Desire. Women with no permanent partner. (2004). S. (2004). and behavior. indicates that men have more frequent coitus than women.. Barry C. Kausler. good physical health. Low sexual desire in midlife and older women: Personality factors. . U.1080/00224490802624414 Rathus.. & Haavio-Mannila. retirement can separate friends and colleagues. present sexuality. psychosocial development. partners and relatives. A crucial gender difference among the aging population is that women over 60 were less likely than men to have a permanent sexual partner. C. Boston: Allyn & Bacon. health. S. 726–740. high self rated self esteem. Anthony Rhodes General Psychology Ph. sexual desire is associated with frequent intercourse. 46-56. Nevid. Kontula. Furthermore. Menopause. ISBN: 0205406157. Nevid & Fichner-Rathus. (2009). Elderly are often segregated into age bound communities and living arrangements of nursing homes and assisted living centers that separate them from the influences and socialization of younger individuals. However. References Hartmann. research indicated that considering sexual activity important.. S. limited financial resources and relocation all contribute to terminating or severely disrupting ones social contacts.).. For men. partially due to lower rates of widowed men. For women.. doi:10. This decline in permanent relationships among women. Illinois. 2009). Late adulthood is often characteristic of a loss of social networking due to illness and death of friends. Donald H. mind. 11. K.D. E. Being an elderly single individual notably corresponds to a decrease in social relationships and sexual activity (Rathus . often translates into a self induced lack of sexual desire among women above 60 years old. A.. O. University of Illinois Press: Champaign. Human sexuality in a world of diversity (6th ed. Journal of Sex Research. & Fichner-Rathus. J. 46(1). (2001).These relational issues and their correlating effect upon sexual functioning seem to be particularly profound among women. Kausler.