RSVP Course Promotes Healthy Living — and Healthy Sexuality — for Older Adults

Photo - Older couple holding hands

The New England Journal of Medicine says the majority of older adults are engaged in intimate relationships and “regard sexuality as an important part of life.” But many older adults don’t like talking about sex, even with their doctor.

That’s a problem, as sexually transmitted infection (STIs) rates have doubled among 50- to 90-year-olds in the past decade.

To promote a healthy approach to sexual activity and help reduce the occurrence of STIs among older adult populations, the Atlanta Regional Commission is now offering a “Healthy Sexuality as We Age” class as part of the agency’s Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). The one-hour workshop, added earlier this year, has quickly become RSVP’s most popular.

“Most of this population grew up in an era when talking about sex was taboo,” said Mary Newton, RSVP’s program coordinator. “But then again, our now-aging Baby Boomers led the sexual revolution. So it’s important that we change the conversation about our bodies and lifestyles. We’re lucky to have a cadre of well-trained individuals teaching this course who aren’t shy about dishing the facts.”

One such dynamic duo is uncle-nephew team Jerry Moore and Wayne Stokes, who have seven years of volunteering with RSVP between them.

On a recent afternoon, the team held center stage as Jerry, soon to turn 88 years old, sang a song he wrote about the “5 B’s of Healthy Sexuality” before a packed house at Lakewood Christian Manor in southwest Atlanta. Jerry held the crowd captive with a little dance as he had the audience sing along, “Please, please, please; know your five B’s.”

The subject matter wasn’t for those faint of heart. One woman excused herself just minutes into the presentation as Wayne described some of the more unpleasant symptoms of various STIs. But most attendees jumped right in, asking questions and seeking clarification.

The 5 B’s of Healthy Sexuality for Older Adults

BE KNOWLEDGABLE
about your partner’s sexual history.

BE PROACTIVE
in getting STI testing if you think you are at risk.

BE INFORMED
and know your STI status.

BE PREPARED
to talk to your doctor about STIs and know what to expect.

BE HONEST
with your sexual partner, family and friends and allow them to be your support system.

The teaching pair maintained the audience’s rapt attention as they talked about the importance of using protection and knowing the sexual history of partners. Together, they deftly maneuvered the conversation past any level of discomfort to talk about the dangers of STIs among older adults.

Jerry and Wayne are trained to speak on a number of RSVP’s 15 different topics on health and wellness, as are most of the program’s 150 volunteers. Both men retired in recent years and found RSVP when they were looking for ways to stay active and engaged in giving back to their community. As Jerry likes to say, “You gotta keep your mind and behind busy!”

Each RSVP volunteer plays an essential role in providing community education so that older adults can make informed choices about available programs and services.

If you are interested in learning more about RSVP, visit www.atlantaregional.com/RSVP or call Mary Newton at 404.463.3119.

Infographic - RSVP by the Numbers
Wayne Stokes, Ernest Johnson and Gerry Moore

Seminar attendee Ernest Johnson, a retired school teacher and Lakewood Christian Manor resident, enjoyed his time spent with Wayne Stokes, left, and Jerry Moore during their RSVP presentation, “Healthy Sexuality as We Age.”

2016-10-12T11:06:55+00:00 July 28th, 2016|Aging & Health|