“How old was Jumping Jack Flash?” and “Who hid the Brown Sugar?”; are just two of numerous questions being volunteered by today’s hyperactive Australian senior citizens looking for a youthful release of the kind of pent up energy that accumulates when you house an old soul under a young roof. While the intrepid 20-somethings are busy fighting to ‘free the nipple’ with MTV and the ‘free to airs’, the older and wiser Australians have other things on their minds and it’s not all bingo table settings and parrot spotting.
The elderly in fact have certain needs and wants, and there are those among them who have decided it is high time to speak up, for a wise man once said “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” Believe it or not, there are those among the aged of this country who do not like to be denied the simple pleasures in life and are not only acting out but speaking out on the sensitive topic of “unmet sexual needs” writes Samantha Selinger Morris. As you would hope the requests are not falling on deaf ears as an increasing number of care professionals are hot on the case and working to champion the cause.
Seniors Sexual Revolution on the Rise
Has a new sexual revolution arrived on our shores at an inopportune moment? An anonymous Sydney sex worker first began visiting clients of care homes some 30 years ago and says in the early days you almost needed a full disguise to get in and get out without major incident. In contrast, the modern day take is to practically roll out the red carpet as the new mentality is for inclusive care with a human touch. One such client is a 91-year old man who still manages to fidget in the right places, and there is a communal understanding that what we are doing is in this person’s very best interests to express himself as only a man can. Sure, he may be an old man but until the ticker stops ticking he will insist that he is still a man and why shouldn’t he?
“His primary carer welcomes me when I come in, waits outside, comes back in when I help lift him onto the bed, helps me when I finish with him, and hands me the white envelope with payment. It’s a pretty profound thing” explains the sex worker. 2016 is how we roll. Once upon a time, mince pies and card games may have been all the rage but in modern day Australia human spirit and human ingenuity has once again prevailed.
Older Australians living in aged care facilities are fighting for the right to party, standing up for themselves and not mincing their words, we have sexual needs too they are saying, a cup of fruit herbal tea and a hamster wheel just isn’t going to cut it for these horny grandpas and grandmas! Full marks for effort. The head of the aged care unit at a Sydney nursing home put it as eloquently as possible to one elderly Gentleman’s daughter “Just because they’re a certain age, they have rights and they have undeniable needs.”
In extreme cases some industry professionals are calling the situation a potentially neglected human rights issue? “Senior Citizens in aged care facilities have for too long been denied the right to express themselves sexually, or have their needs for intimacy fulfilled” one industry professional commented. “I’ve come across cases whereby residents are in a new relationship, and it’s something that is not supported by either the care staff or a family member,” says Dr Cindy Jones, a research fellow at the Menzies Health Institute Queensland, at Griffith University who specialises in ageing and sexuality. “They may be separated upon request of family members and residents who attempt to seek out each other, and some of them seemed unhappy [when they were barred]and then some of them actually passed away shortly after. Now, of course, I can’t say for certain that their death is a result of their being separated, but it seems to have a negative impact.”
These types of separations do occur, experts say, because one member of the couple, or both, might have dementia, and aged care facilities and loved ones are often concerned that one or both might not be able to give consent to sexual or intimate acts. Even long-time married couples frequently experience forced separation, either in separate rooms, or in the same room, sometimes for this reason.
A fascinating question that has been raised is to consider whether there is much difference between a resident being able to consent to medical treatment and being able to consent to a sexual relationship? Of course there is a fine line between bad behaviour and human rights and the moral of the story appears to be that there is a real need to tread carefully over a landscape somewhat mortified over the danger of a little friendly fire? Images of an ageing Rock & Roller belting out the lyrics to “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” immediately come to mind. And I would wager that the salty old dog may tell you himself, “You are as young as the last sex worker you feel!”