Invisible sexuality: older adults missing in sexual health research

Studies that deliberately exclude older adults from their samples render older adults’ sexuality invisible. shutterstock Sue Malta, University of Melbourne The Australian Study of Health and Relationships (ASHR), the latest findings of which were released recently, has much to commend it. Like its counterpart, the British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (NATSAL), it provides an illustration of sexual practices of today’s adults. Both studies share a surprising common finding: respondents in both countries are having sex less often than they did a decade ago. The two surveys also have another thing in common: both leave out a significant proportion of the population – older adults. The sample for the NATSAL is aged 18 to 44. The ASHR’s sample is aged 18 to 69 – and the first ASHR over a decade ago included only adults to age 59, ignoring those aged 60 and above. While there may be some justification for leaving out the fastest-growing segment of the popula…
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Connecting online can help prevent social isolation in older people

Social technologies could provide valuable opportunities for isolated older persons to stay connected to the world. shutterstock Jenny Waycott, University of Melbourne John*, a widower, is a retired engineer aged in his 90s. He lives alone in the family home and has struggled with loneliness and depression since his wife passed away. He feels frustrated that as he gets older he can no longer do many of the things he used to enjoy, which exacerbates his sense of feeling alone in the world. Social isolation in old age In Australia, one-quarter of people aged 65 and above live alone. Some older people, like John, will be vulnerable to social isolation, which occurs when people have limited opportunities for human contact and become disconnected from society. Not all older people who live alone are socially isolated. And social isolation is certainly not limited to old age. But social isolation in old age is a significant concern. It is linked to a range of health problems and, …
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There’s a yawning gap in the plan to keep older Australians working

A key reason for deciding to retire has to do with getting tired at and through work, how that tiredness affects partners and families. www.shutterstock.com Andreas Cebulla, University of Adelaide In the past decade a 30-year trend to earlier retirement has been reversed. In OECD countries the average age at which people retire has risen by about one to two years. In Australia the average age has risen from 64 to 65.6 for men, and from 61.8 to 64.2 for women. For the Australian government, though, this isn’t enough. In a speech last night, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg spoke of the pressure put on Australia’s health, aged care and pension systems by an ageing population. Over the next four decades the number of Australians working and paying income tax for every person over the age of 65 would fall from 4.5 to 2.7, he said. The proportion of people over 65 in the workforce would therefore have to grow substantially. The government needs people to keep working and paying incom…
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