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Safer sex for seniors

Check out this amazing PSA – we can’t even get into half of these positions! Their enthusiasm, willingness to experiment, and flexibility is something we — no matter what age — can all learn from.

Earlier this month saw the launch of SaferSex4Seniors.org, an online collective of professional sexuality educators, researchers, authors, trainers, counsellors and therapists across the country aiming to educate and inform the 55+ crowd on how to make sex safer. After all, research has shown that in the past 5 years, the rate of STDs among active seniors has risen over 70%! The site has FAQs, a list of resources for visitors, and an advice column. We recently asked Melanie Davis, PhD, the coordinator of SaferSex4Seniors.org (as well as a sexuality education consultant and owner of Honest Exchange LLC) more about the site and their sexual health campaign:

Who are you guys?
Our contributors — who live and work across the country, mostly on the east coast — are considered the founders. We write original content for the site, based on our areas of expertise. Joan Garrity came up with our URL and serves as co-editor. Our contributors also answer media inquiries and take speaking gigs related to our expertise. We all welcome direct inquiries from consumers, professionals and organizations interested in working with us individually. We also welcome additional contributors with expertise in sexuality and aging.There is no paid staff; this is an all-volunteer effort.

Do you answer every advice question that comes in?
I direct the questions to a contributor with related expertise who has time to answer the question.

What’s the most common advice question you get from seniors?
So far, there’s no pattern to website inquiries. However, in the work we do outside of the site, we do a lot of normalizing, i.e., we help people feel more comfortable about their interests, behaviors, concerns, relationships, orientation, etc. We help them create sexual scripts and relationships that work for them at this stage in life, so they don’t struggle to live up to expectations they established when they (and their bodies) were younger. We also do a great deal of educating because older adults generally didn’t receive sex education in school, and families didn’t talk about sex as openly as some do today.

When doing professional development, we focus on changing attitudes, assumptions, and sometimes policies relating to older adult sexuality. For too long, healthcare providers, long-term care facilities, adult children, and even older adults themselves have assumed that sexual interest ends at a specific time of life. We normalize sexuality throughout the lifespan and help professionals communicate with and advocate for seniors in this area of their lives.

Who produced your awesome PSA?
The PSA, along with the poster, is the brainchild and property of [the advertising and marketing company] DDB New York. PayDirt was the production company (directed by Reiss/Hill). The music on the video was composed by Brandon O’Connor of Singing Serpent music company with lyrics suggested by Beth Mart of DDB NYC.

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