Topic Overview

The topic in front of you focuses primarily on understanding the elderly as sexual beings, and primarily focuses on raising awareness of the importance of sexuality for the quality of life of the elderly. Within the scope of the topic, we will discuss the importance of family and healthcare workers’ support in achieving goals related to the active sexual life of the elderly, the topic also highlights the importance of family awareness in connection with the sexuality of the elderly, as well as the necessary knowledge that people who have an elderly person in their midst must have, so that they can support their elderly family member as much as possible.

Aims and objectives

Learning outcomes

Having successfully completed this topic you will be able to:

  • Understand the basic needs of elderly regarding heir sexuality and intimacy.
  • Understanding basic facts about ageing and the importance of sexuality for elderly.
  • Recognize the importance of elderly’s sexuality for their a healthy and happy life.
  • To know the main advantages for a higher quality of life for the elderly in an active and sophisticated sex life.
  • To learn what the elderly need to effectively express their sexuality.

Module 3.1

Family and health professional support

Family and health professional support

Active sexuality is a condition for a higher quality of life and well-being of elderly people. The need and desire to express one’s sexuality continues even in old age. The environment in which the elderly live is not always favourable to the expression of sexuality by the elderly, so education and awareness of people who live with the elderly or with whom the elderly socialize is very important. The challenge of sexual expression and satisfaction is especially challenging for people living with dementia both in the home and in an institutional environment. There is, however, a tool that enables the environment where the elderly live, to assess the suitability of support mechanisms for the expression of the sexuality of the elderly, and in case of poor assessment, to propose measures for improvement (Bauer, Fetherstonhaugh, Tarzia, Nay, & Beattie, 2014).

In the vast majority, it is the environment that is to blame for the elderly neglecting sexuality and even avoiding it. In the study, regarding their attitude to sexuality, women pointed out that children are the reason why they do not engage in relationships and sexuality, because in this case they would be avoided or even cut off contact with them (da Silva, Pelzer, & da Silva Neutzling, 2019).

Due to the quality of life of the elderly, the production of knowledge about sexuality in old age has also increased in the last decade. Sexuality must be considered as an essential component of human existence, which differs according to social, cultural and religious context (Evangelista, et al., 2019).

Sexuality is more than just physical contact, it is a combination of pleasure, relational harmony, affection, cultural and social aspects. Sexuality is present at different stages of life for men and women, including youth, adulthood, and older adults, and it is necessary to treated in different ways in each life period. Prejudices and myths about sexuality in old age are still very present. There is a belief that sexuality is restricted to the young, contributing to the idea that sexuality in old age is an unusual and immoral practice. Society generally views older adults as asexual beings who rarely exercise their sexuality. Therefore, health professionals are usually unaware of this issue, which increases the vulnerability of this population (Evangelista, et al., 2019).

Family Support

Families and family members of the elderly must also be adequately educated about the importance of sexuality for the quality of life of the elderly. Only in this way will they be able to support their older people and understand their sexual needs.

On the part of the medical profession, it is necessary to create relevant and appropriate information that will serve as support for families. It is, education about sexuality and the rights of older adults that is crucial in understanding the field. It is also necessary to ensure the availability of qualified support  for families and the availability of written information about sexuality (in a format that family members and the family can understand) (Bauer, Fetherstonhaugh, Tarzia, Nay, & Beattie, 2014).

Health professional support

Insofar as we want to create good conditions for the elderly in their old age, health professionals must be alert and ready to providing necessary support to older adults regarding intensity of changes related to their body and other biological factors affecting sexuality. It is also extremely important that they are medical professionals without prejudice. Furthermore, it is essential that the elderly are not treated as degenerating beings. Therefore, their task is to create situations that promote self-esteem, talk about sexuality and answer possible questions without embarrassment, thereby influencing the patient’s biopsychosocial well-being (Evangelista, et al., 2019).

A study among nurses found that most nurses has knowledge of sexuality in old age, but it is still perceived conservative attitude towards sexuality in old age. That is why it is necessary to emphasize the ways in which experts perceive and conceptualize the subject and also the fact that fear, prejudice, shame and false ideologies are present of this field. All of these must be considered as obstacles and must be eliminated and implemented in  health education processes. The results of this research also show the importance of and the need to implement further education strategies with the aim of improving the knowledge and practice of nurses (Evangelista, et al., 2019).

Video resources

Module 3.2

Family empowerment

The importance of family empowerment

In families, positive communication between family members should be established, possibly with the help of a family doctor. Elderly people need support from their family to build positive relationships, communication with other people, including about sexuality, and turn to primary care physicians to talk about sexually transmitted diseases as well. Although we can expect doctors to address all important aspects of the well-being of our loved ones, some doctors avoid this topic because they are uncomfortable discussing it with their patients. They may also be wrong if they think that older people are not sexually active.

Because of such problems, it is imperative for families and family members to be educated about the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases. It is also recommended that comprehensive sex education measures be introduced for older adults.

Meeting new people and creating new connections that would lead to sexuality are stressful in themselves, so it is necessary for the family to create a safe and supportive environment where the elderly will feel accepted and normal in their desire to express their sexual desire.

Therefore, it is necessary for the family to ensure:

  • understanding the elderly person’s desire for sexual activity
  • help in ensuring safe sex
  • creating a safe environment for sexual activity, without distractions
  • acceptance of an older family member in his desire for sexuality and harmony with the chosen partner

Module 3.3

Family learning needs

Why Sex is the Best Remedy for your Senior?

Intimacy is extremely important in old age and is timeless and involves more than just sex. Physical touch, hugging or holding hands brings many positive elements for health and relationships into the life of an elderly person. It has been proven that the elderly can enjoy sex and various sexual activities for as long as they want. It is necessary to achieve that they will be sexually satisfied and enjoy their sexuality long after middle age.

In addition, sexuality can not only improve as we age, but it also provides many health benefits. With age comes higher self-confidence, better knowledge of oneself and one’s desires. With age, we reach a point when the children are adults and life becomes easier, less stressful, and there is more free time. A positive attitude and an open mind towards sexuality lead to a renewed positive body image and sense of self (Nurse Next Door Professional Home Care Services Inc., 2020).

Researchers have proven that sexual activity is associated with improved well-being in the elderly, and it is also associated with greater enjoyment of life (Green, 2018).

In a large representative sample of the elderly, it was shown that sexual activity and the feeling of emotional closeness with a partner during sexual activity is associated with greater enjoyment of life in both men and women. Men who had sexual problems or had concerns about their sex lives consistently reported lower levels of enjoyment in life. These findings are extremely important for family members, as well as for healthcare workers and caregivers, as they highlight the fact that the elderly are not asexual and that an active sex life is associated with better general well-being. Healthcare professionals are tasked with raising awareness and educating the elderly about sexuality importance, about introducing new sexual positions and exploring different types of sexual activity, and encouraging them to engage in sexual activity. It is important to be involved in discussions about sexuality in later life, as only this would help to eliminate false beliefs about sexual activity in older people, so that only they could live more fulfilling lives. Research shows that it would be very beneficial if doctors regularly asked geriatric patients about their sexual activity and offered help with sexual problems (Smith, et al., 2019).


Aging & Sexuality – The #1 Problem And The Solution (Fraser, 2020)

Presenter: Dr. Cheryl Fraser

Click Here To View Transcript

Glossary & Acronyms:

Home care – Home care is the support and related services provided in the (ordinary) homes of individuals (AGE Platform Europe, 2023).

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.

Scroll to Top