Robert Butler on Sex Among the Elderly

Sexuality, Butler says, is not just intercourse.
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TRANSCRIPT

Question: Do the elderly still want sex?

Robert Butler: Well not all older people do, but those that do often enjoy it very much and they are still very much involved after all. Human intimacy is so important in life and the capability is there unless one has diabetes in particular or some neurological dysfunction or circulatory problem. And even there, to a degree, there are now medications that will help like Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, which can make a difference in people's lives. They don’t become a substitute for intimacy. You have to have a loving important relationship. They are mechanical. They are not intimate and they are not also aphrodisiacs.

Question: How can you spark desire in those who are no longer interested in sex?

Robert Butler: Well, if they really are not interested, I don't think they should be pushed into something they are not interested in. If they have some inkling of interest, then they have an opportunity to talk with a specialist who may be able to help them address whatever problems they may feel they have their partner. 

Is sex an important part of staying healthy in old age?

Robert Butler: Well, I don’t if there is anything more important than human closeness and intimacy. Sexuality is not just intercourse. Of course, sexuality is also closeness. Sexuality touching, so there is much that couples who may even have a serious medical impediment can still enjoy in terms of bodily contact.Recorded on: Mar 17 2008