By Airial Clatney
The way I see aging is that humans cycle through life and learn new ways to adapt to aging and changes that our bodies undergo as we have new life experiences. Ageism is prevalent in our communities, and society has a tendency to view older adults as lesser abled and unintelligent. While it’s true that with age comes physical and sometimes mental declines, these attitudes create a stigma around what we think we know about our aging community, which has created a total gap in healthcare failing to address topics of sexuality.
Tuuli Kukkonen’s idea that ageist stigma creates a bias in society where people become socialized that the idea of older adults engaging in sexual behaviour and thoughts is gross or non-existent has had lasting effects on healthcare. This general attitude about older adults totally erases the idea that they have any kind of sexual desire or needs, where having access to education and privacy is a human right. I do think that the biggest problem with this is that it results in some health care professionals acquiring these same attitudes that discourage older adults to even talk about sex with their doctors because of fear of being embarrassed or judged or hyper-sexualized. The truth is that older adults are having sex just as much as their younger counterparts!
If you are anyone who is looking to speak with a doctor about your sexual health, I would recommend, if it is accessible to you in your community, to look into health practitioners that specialize or have experience in the field of human sexuality. This may look like for you, going to a sexual health clinic to get the proper and attention that is required, or you could be lucky enough to find a sex-positive family doctor with experience in the field. Below I have included links and directories to sexual health clinics in the US and Canada.
https://www.optionsforsexualhealth.org/care/clinic-finder/ – British Columbia
https://www.plannedparenthoodnlshc.com/clinics.html – Newfoundland and Labrador
https://shns.ca/ – Nova Scotia
https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/health-pei/sexual-health-services – Prince Edward Island
https://www.nthssa.ca/en/services/yellowknife-sexual-health-clinic – North West Territories
http://www.bettertoknow.yk.ca/gettingtested.php – The Yukon