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Alan Hamilton - Author & Editor

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Sex and the 'oldie'

I began my first post in this blog series with a reference to the Fonda-Redford film Our Souls at Night, which postulates what would not too long ago have been – and to a great extent still is today – the unthinkable. One octogenarian and one late septuagenarian having a sexual relationship.


For the children bred by my generation all that kind of thing should have stopped once we'd had them. Any thought that either of their parents might still be doing that, never mind enjoying it, is not one they would at all comfortably entertain.


In the film there's a link too to my last post. The initial stimulus for this coming together of geriatrics is loneliness, isolation; the going to bed each night alone.


Before all we 'oldies' start knocking on the doors of our neighbour widow or widower, let's confront the sober reality. Fonda and Redford are not remotely the typical person next door. We are much more likely to find the one who is actually living over the garden fence completely unattractive, as he or she will probably also view us.


In any case, are either of us likely to contemplate (never mind perform) sexual activity at our age?


Recently, we have all been regaled with an apparently endless series of late middle-aged men accused, usually by very much younger women (and in the odd case younger men) of a range of scandalous behaviour running the gamut from 'inappropriate' gestures or touching, to full-on forced sexual intercourse – aka rape.


What it seems to me to suggest is that as men get older, and from the visual evidence to have lost whatever physical attractiveness they may have had, the sexual drive does not wither away. Whether this is equally true of women, I can't say, but the anecdotal evidence suggests not, or at the least nothing like the frequency it appears in men.


Perhaps these men are subject to a desperate need to feel themselves to be sexually attractive and/or capable before they have to accept it's too late. In reality, they're already long past their 'sell-by' date.


One hears, of course, of men who, in chronological terms are elderly, fathering children, and, in exceptional cases servicing a harem, like Hefner, though in his case I would entertain a healthy scepticism that this was deliberate myth-building.


I wonder, though, for many of us males whether the embers of lust/desire continue to glow long after we have consciously accepted the futility of blowing on them. I know for myself that when I'm in the gym my eyes will still follow, as they did when I was much younger, any pretty and nubile woman, in the full knowledge that if she looked at me at all, she would see only a 'granddad'.


For a man, one of the many painful tribulations of old age is perhaps being an 'unperson' in the eyes of younger women. Where once he could be aware of the glance of appraisal in his direction, even though he had absolutely no intention of pursuing the possibilities inherent in it, he can now be assured that he will not even be noticed. Whether this is the same for women, again, it would be interesting to know. My own experience is that my eyes don't appraise obviously elderly women.


In my next post I'll look at the relationship between the elderly and the health provision in Britain; in particular the experiences we have and the way the relationship is presented in the media.



Comments welcome.

What do you think?

My 6th blog about growing old....