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Word Count: 1,730
The marked increase in life expectancy over the past century has meant that individuals over the age of 65 years form an increasingly large proportion of our population Yet very little attention has been paid until recently to the treatment of sexual dysfunction in older adults Aging adults are the fastest growing segment of the US population now 20 of all people in the United States are 65 or older With this in mind it is unfortunate that relatively little attention has been focused on their sexual problems and concerns and what little information is available doesnt seem to be easily accessible Cultural attitudes that revere reproductiveness and youthful good looks may contribute to the expectation that older people are or ought to be asexual Although sex roles have changed and there has been more freedom of sexual expression that the stereotypes that older people are physically unattractive uninterested in sex and incapable of achieving sexual arousal are still widely held The constraints society imposes on older peoples sexual freedom are particularly evident in elder care institutions theorized a Geriatric Sexuality Breakdown Syndrome in our society through which elderly people internalize the negative attitudes to which they are exposed and perceive themselves as nonsexual This syndrome can be broken eventually by education to change societys negative attitudes but more immediately by educating aging adults about their sexuality and helping them develop ways to cope with the negative attitudes they receive This may be done through individual or group counseling or therapy as well as in educational settings By the statistics the American society has generally been viewed as restricting the sexuality of older adults Study of nursing staff in an extended care unit still identified much staff discomfort about sexual expression among the elderly The only sexual behaviors viewed as being acceptable were hugging and kissing on the cheek Several studies have revealed the negative ageist and custodial attitudes of staff particularly in nursing
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