Sexual health in the over fifties

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Social innovation


People in their 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s are having sex with new partners. Some people are coming out of relationships and dating again. Some have always been single. And many over 50s are enjoying fantastic sex and finding new love at this point in their lives. However, lots of people over 50, single or dating, don’t think safer sex applies to them. If you’re coming out of a long-term relationship it may not be something you’ve had to think about for years. And, after the menopause, using condoms can be easily forgotten about. Result? Sexually transmitted infections are making a comeback in a new generation. There is very little, if anything, for the older generation in terms of sexual reproductive health. Once you leave school, information fades, as sexual health information is very focussed on young people. For the older person there are a number of key ‘at risk’ milestones are. These include bereavement and divorce/separation. Many current older adults may have missed the boat when it came to safe sex education. Safe sex and STD prevention education became prevalent in the 1980s when HIV/AIDS was discovered. During that time period, many current older adults were married and middle aged and missed the education that was then directed to youth. The times are truly different for older adults. Women are postmenopausal, so they do not worry about getting pregnant. Men of this generation typically do not prefer wearing condoms. Older adults are more likely to receive diagnosis of a STD when it is too late and then aren't able to benefit from the medications available for treatment of the diseases in the early stages. Many older adults are embarrassed to ask to be tested for STDs. Many other STDs do not have symptoms, so many people don't realize they are infected until serious and possibly permanent damage has occurred. This is commonly the case with HIV/AIDS in older adults. Doctors may also misdiagnose early symptoms of HIV infection - fatigue, weakness, and memory changes - as normal signs of aging. The patients themselves may also disregard these symptoms for the same reason. Older adults who have been diagnosed with full-blown AIDS have higher death rates possibly because of complicating problems like heart disease, diabetes, or an aging immune system.

Creation date: 25/05/2016

Bloc onglets

Bloc 1

Overall objective

Raising awareness and knowledge of all (clinicians and the general public) to change attitudes, engage with the older generation, provide new information and delivery strategies.

Bloc 2


A tested marketing campaign to drive more people into clinics, GP surgeries and to raise awareness of the long term complications if STDs are left untreated. Healthcare professionals - workforce education and training to understand the population target group better and provide more appropriate services to an older population.

Bloc 3

Expected result

This project will target this particularly at risk population. The outcomes we expect are: • reduced rate of STIs in the target population, leading to lower health care costs and increased healthy life years • Increased knowledge and awareness of the issue in the target population • removing barriers to discussion of sexual health as part of the life course, increasing intergenerational dialogue • better trained healthcare workforce offering fit for purpose services

Bloc 4

Cross-border added-value

Various different approaches take place across the 2 Seas region when dealing with this ‘taboo’ subject. Some countries and cultures are more open to talk about their sex lives and this project aims to learn from these. Learn from the Dutch experience in reducing the stigma of inter-generational sexual health discussions.