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Sex and the Retirement Community: Sexuality and the Older Adult

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Getting Started

  1. Have students: 
  • Watch the video that accompanies the Try This Issue 10 – Sexuality Assessment for Older Adults.  Click here to go to the How to Try This Consult Geri RN resource. 
  • Read the companion article on the PLISSIT Model of Assessment of Sexuality in Older Adults. This provides an excellent basis for students to incorporate a sexual assessment of their older adult patients. The model is applicable to clients they will see both in inpatient and outpatient settings as well as those seen in the community. The additional questions included as a resource to the tool Questions to Guide Sexual Assessment Among Older Adults is an excellent tool to aid students in the process. 
  • Highlight issues that are a priority concern and interventions that might be helpful once they complete the sexual assessment on their clients. Incorporate the reflection activity into this assignment to help students better understand the need to assess sexuality of older adults, and to perhaps help them to gather insights into their own level of comfort. 

2.  Student reflection: This exercise asks students to reflect on their comfort level with talking about sexuality as well as their thoughts on the part sexuality plays in the lives of older adults. These questions can be used as a journal reflection assignment, as questions in an online forum activity, or in small group discussions. Please see the materials section for additional resources regarding specific facts about sexuality and older adults. 

  • What are your thoughts about the importance of sexuality to your patients? Do you think differently about your older adult clients? 
  • What makes you uncomfortable when you talk with your clients about issues of sexuality? 
  • What are you comfortable talking about? 
  • What issues of sexuality do you feel you have a strong bias about?  Infidelity? Homosexuality? Sexual abuse? Sex outside of a committed relationship? 
  • What do you think are the main teaching points in educating older adults about sexual issues? 
  • How would you feel if you were not able to express your sexuality? 

3. Sexuality Awareness questions are included as a PowerPoint file. There are two separate files; one is a simple PowerPoint slide show; the other is a PowerPoint presentation that incorporates Turning Technology software to use as an audience response activity for interactive teaching.  These questions will help to initiate a discussion on sexuality and older adults. Click here and here for PowerPoint files, found in the materials section. The audience response format allows students to answer questions anonymously. If this option is not available, use the PowerPoint file alone to initiate the discussion. The myths surrounding sexuality and aging may start to get debunked in this activity. The questions in this file are as follows:

1.   Older adults should not have sex.

a.   Yes, I agree.
b.   No, I don’t agree.

2.   The physical changes that occur with old age make it difficult for older adults to have sex.

a.   Yes, this is true.
b.   No, this is not true.

3.   Older adults have little interest in sex at this stage of their lives.

a.   True
b.   False

4.   Sexually transmitted diseases are an increasing concern for older adults.

a.   True
b.   False

5.   Women are less likely than men to be sexually active as older adults.

a.   True
b.   False

6.   Sexuality is a low priority in terms of assessments with older adults.

a.   I agree.
b.   I disagree.

7.   When I think about assessing the sexuality of my older adult patients I:

a.   Avoid the topic at all costs
b.   Can’t even say the word sex in their presence
c.   Just dive right in and ask away
d.   Would feel more comfortable if I had a set of questions to ask

8.   Medications can affect the sexuality of older adults.

a.   True
b.   False

9.   Older adults with dementia who act out sexually have some control of their behavior.

a.  True
b.   False