When you think of an environment teeming with unchecked libidos and sexual debauchery, you probably envision promiscuous college students on spring break. However, this scene could just as likely be unfolding among retirees in a nursing home on bingo night.
While universities face criticism for reports of sexual assault and the spread of STDs, similar sexual hazards are running rampant in retirement communities, as well. In fact, when it comes to use of condoms, issues of consent, and acknowledging that people of all ages love to get lucky, older generations could benefit from following the example set by youngsters’ safe sex practices.
USE OF CONDOMS
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2011 and 2015, chlamydia infections among Americans 20-24 years old increased by nearly 9 percent, and gonorrhea by 11 percent. STDs spiked remarkably more among old fogies, however, as chlamydia infections in Americans 65 and over increased by nearly 50 percent, and gonorrhea by 102 percent. Although younger generations undoubtedly have a greater number of reported cases of these STIs, their enhanced ability to avoid the escalation of infections likely results from healthier safe sex habits.
Safe sex is a cornerstone of college culture. Although binge-drinking and casual screwing may be commonplace, the looming fear of unplanned pregnancy or a case of the herps keeps condoms in constant practice. At old folks’ homes, in comparison, partners no longer have to worry about pregnancy, and concerns about STIs seem to have gone to the wayside, as well.
According to the latest National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, among college-age Americans, condoms are used in about 40 percent of sexual encounters. Among those 61 and older, condoms are only used in about 6 percent of sexual encounters.
Extensive use of boner-boosting pills like Cialis and Viagra only make matters worse. A study published by Harvard researchers revealed that older men who use Viagra and similar erectile-dysfunction drugs are six times less likely to use condoms compared with men in their 20s.
ISSUES OF CONSENT
Consent is a hot-button issue on college campuses. In a culture where students are frequently too shitfaced to make calculated sexual choices, important conversations about what consent is and when it’s essential to seek it are continuously taking place.
The same cannot be said about retirement communities. Several years ago, after an Iowa legislator was charged with sexual assault for having sex with his wife, who had Alzheimer’s disease and was in a nursing home, it became clear that the lack of guidelines about sexual consent in retirement communities was problematic.
However, many nursing homes still refuse to acknowledge that their senior citizens can still bump uglies even after aging or dementia take a toll on their mental health. If incapacitated college students have implicit protections from nonconsensual sex, should retirees have the same?
Recently, inside assisted-living facilities around the country, instances of rape and sexual assault were also brought to light. These allegations are very rarely substantiated, however, due to complications with aging victims and half-hearted investigations.
Regardless of age, false rape accusations are remarkably uncommon, and consequently should always be investigated thoroughly — a reality that even American universities seem to understand. College students and their grandparents alike deserve to have their accusations of abuse taken seriously and carefully looked into, rather than ignored.
ACKNOWLEDGING THAT SEX HAPPENS
In hopes of discussing safe sex practices among nursing home residents, Rooster reached out to several retirement communities within Boulder, CO. At the time of publication, none had returned our calls or messages.
Daniel Reingold, the president and chief executive of the sexually-accepting Hebrew Home retirement community in New York, also once attempted to survey nursing homes in his area about the sexual health of their residents. After reaching out to hundreds of retirement communities in New York, Reingold found that “most of them even denied that their residents were having sexual relationships.”
However, accepting that people love to hump — whether they’re 22 and screwing all the sorority sisters, or 82 and making whoopee with the grandma next door— is essential to establishing safe sex practices.
In retirement communities and on college campuses, where tons of similarly-aged people are crammed together, refusing to acknowledge or accommodate sex lives is risky, allowing for the spread of STDs and leaving the lines of consent blurry.
If retirement communities can approach sex from the college perspective: embracing our ageless love of getting laid, encouraging partners to use a condom, and creating clear-cut policies to address consent, students and seniors both can bone safely for the rest of their days.