Senior sex — the lethal irony
Of all the forces in the universe, I fear irony the most. It's lethal, and is eventually going to find and destroy me.
For example, the fact that I've now spent a large chunk of my professional life writing hundreds of occasionally sardonic columns and blogs for national long-term care magazines all-but guarantees that when I'm finally admitted to a nursing home myself, the only available mattress will be a rough burlap sack stuffed full of soggy back issues of McKnight's — with the staples still in. I've made my bed, so I guess I'll have to lie in it.
Which reminds me of that horribly ironic story someone always reads aloud at holiday time, where the wife sells her hair to buy a chain for her husband's pocket watch, and the husband sells his watch to buy hair combs.* On the bright side, though their well-intended gifts were entirely useless, their love was proven to be without price.
Which leads me to the recent study showing that weekly sex doubles the risk of heart attack for older men. On its own, this news isn't ironic at all — it's just sad and a little frightening. But what if I told you that sexual activity for older women has been shown to actually lower the risk of hypertension? Now we've wandered into the cruel and inhospitable wasteland of Ironica.
Faced with this unwelcome research, all I can suggest for older men between the ages of 57 and 86 is to respond with acceptance and honesty. When the situation arises and an invitation to participate is received, I strongly suggest saying something like, “Unfortunately, my love, the pleasurable activity that could save your life is also the one that could kill me. It's a bitter irony, but I must respectfully decline.”
Then hand her some new hair combs.
*While I'm inspired by this vivid lesson in devotion, self-sacrifice and good intentions, Jim and Della clearly had terminal communication problems and were loving on borrowed time. I seriously doubt they're still together.
Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a national Silver Medalist and regional Gold Medal winner in the 2014 Association of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) awards program. He has amused, informed and sometimes befuddled long-term care readers worldwide since his debut with the former SNALF.com at the end of a previous century. He is a multimedia consultant for Consonus Healthcare Services in Portland, OR.