However you look at it, the elderly want to love, be loved, and feel good too. This comes with its drawbacks though. There is a growing trend of STDs in older people. Between the free time, insular communities, and the growing awareness of sexual reproductive and family issues, it leaves the elderly at risk for a variety of sexually transmitted infections. Below are some reasons why there is a growing trend of STDs in the elderly and what can be done about it.
The Twilight of Life
At the twilight of life, people want to continue experiencing things and feeling good. With little time left, there is less care about all the preconceived judgments and conventions that define our early lives. Instead of waiting for life to be over, many older people want to experience everything they can with the time they have. They want dating and companionship like everyone else does. This is one reason why the elderly continue to be sexually active.
A lot of people think that when people get older, they shut down in several ways. This isn’t the case. Not only do older people want to do everything that younger people do, but they also want to continue making love and enjoying each other’s bodies. If given the chance, many older people will continue to remain sexually active. Without awareness that the elderly often stay active, there isn’t much talk about the spread of STDs.
Lack of Awareness
Depending on how old the person is, STDs might not have been very prevalent in the lives of the elderly. When you’re young and no one talks about the spread of these infections, you won’t live the rest of your life with them in mind. Furthermore, younger people often feel uncomfortable talking about these issues with their parents or grandparents. Preventing them with protection is key. Awareness needs to be spread to older people to prevent the spread of STDs in their populations. One of the most important things that can be done to prevent STDs in the elderly is to talk to them openly and honestly about it.
Another reason that STDs have spread in the elderly is that they commonly enter insular communities. Senior living communities have a limited number of people. If they are multiple people who are sexually active with each other and don’t use protection, this could lead to the rabid spread of STDs amongst these communities.
In the twilight of life, you understand that you won’t be around forever and that many of the relationships you cultivate may not work out. Still, older people want to enjoy themselves and feel good. When seniors are active sexually in communities designed for the elderly, condoms should be passed around.
Increased STD Prevalence
STDs are much more of a talked-about problem than they were in the mid-20th century. A lot of people didn’t need to worry about STDs in their youth. If these infections weren’t an issue in the past and having children young wasn’t such a big deal, many elderly people wouldn't grow up using condoms. STD prevalence has increased.
Since the AIDS scare of the late-20th century, safe sex is a topic of discussion amongst young people. Not only are these transmissions more common, but they can also lead to more complications with older people. There are more STDs than ever before, and people are more at-risk when they don’t use condoms during sex. This even applies to the elderly population.
Weakened Immune Systems
As you get older, your immune system weakens. Not only does this make STDs easier to contract, but it can also make them a lot more dangerous for the elderly. An STD that would only take a simple medication to clear up could be more complicated when the person is older. This makes STDs a bigger problem for seniors. When the person has a weakened immune system, even more steps should be taken to spread awareness and protect seniors from the spread of STDs.
According to Emergency Medicine News, the number of STIs in the elderly has doubled since 2014. HIV is alarmingly prevalent. Among the 39,000 people who were diagnosed with HIV in 2017, 17 percent of them were age 50 or older. It is also more dangerous and potentially deadly for people who are older. The numbers show the number of STDs in older people going up.
What Can Be Done?
Of course, STD awareness among older people is at the top of the list of things that should be done to prevent the spread of these infections. Having condoms readily available at senior living homes will prevent the spread and complications that come with infection. Furthermore, testing needs to be more accessible.
Luckily, there is the option for an at home STD test that can help stop the spread of these infections from person to person. With accessible testing options that don’t force the person to go into an office and ask for an STD test, older people are more likely to get the test done. When they know if they have an STD or not, they will be able to make responsible decisions going forward.
Life as a senior is multifaceted. It can be both difficult and enjoyable. There is no shortage of different health problems to wrangle. The growing number of STDs is one of them. Just because someone is older, that doesn’t mean they don’t want love, companionship, and sex. They are still alive, after all. Depending on the person’s health, they could be as sexually active as they want to be.
The prevalence of STDs has gone up, but so has awareness. People understand that STDs are a risk, but if you didn’t grow up worrying about them and didn’t use condoms much, it can feel foreign. All these reasons contribute to why we should spread awareness by talking to the elderly, provide sexual health resources, and make sure that condoms are available at senior living homes and other communities.