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Sex Education for Older Adults: Not an Oxymoron

The gray blue and pale green cover certainly doesn’t attract attention, but the words on it are eye-openers: “Older, Wiser, Sexually Smarter: 30 Sex Ed Lessons for Adults Only.” They’re not written in scarlet, but some may think they should be.

Sex ed for adults?  Don’t we think that it’s best left to high school seniors or parents who have to deliver “the big talk” around puberty? The brave among us may have taken a course in college, but often only because we thought we’d get an A to bolster our GPA. What’s going on here?

What’s going on is that the authors of the manual—Peggy Brick, Jan Lunquist, Allyson Sandak and Bill Taverner, all nationally respected sex educators—wanted to provide guidance about sexuality to people in mid and later life, between the ages of 50 to 100.  The Center for Family Life Education at Planned Parenthood of Greater Northern New Jersey published the 258-page manual. It’s aimed primarily at educators and counselors, but can easily used by lay folks.

Here’s a sample of the contents:

•    What’s So Funny? Laughing at Ourselves—What Jokes Tell Us about Sex Over 50;
•    Sages Through the Ages:  Advice from the Past, Questions for the Present;
•    Skin Hunger: Everyone Needs Touch;
•    A “Touchy” Subject:  Masturbation in Mid and Later Life; and
•    Safer Cyber Sex: Exploring Online Relationships

These lessons are neither pornographic nor clinical. Rather, they are thoughtful, creative, and respectful of adult sexuality. As Peggy Brick writes in the Introduction, “Sexuality education aims to help people evaluate all the messages they receive from the media, advertisers and pharmaceutical companies and then discover for themselves what really can enhance their sexual lives.”

What are the settings for curriculum? Other than using all 30 lessons over several months in a graduate course in human sexuality in a social work program, a medical school or a seminary setting, I think it would be best to teach a selection of them—possibly 12 to 15 at a time—in a variety of settings, including a retirement community for adults age 55 and older; YWCAs and YMCAs; senior resource centers; adult evening schools and community colleges; adult classes in religious institutions; prison settings and any other venues where older citizens gather.

Whatever your age, I promise you’ll learn more than a thing or two, which you can use immediately in your own relationships, store in your head until you reach the magic number (50) or get guests’ attention at the next dinner party you attend, when you say, “Do You Know about Older, Wiser, Sexually Smarter: 30 Sex Ed Lessons for Adults Only?”

Indeed, the cool blue and spring green of the covers of this powerful curriculum about adult sexuality are deceptive. Open the manual and settle down for an illuminating and mind-tingling read.

Add This


  • Hi
    I think sex in old age is only a matter of order, because it is still very much needed for family harmony.

  • Just because some is older doesn’t mean their libido vanishes.

    The constant advances in pharmacology paint a wonderful and fulfilling picture of sexual intimacy throughout one’s life. And that’s a healthy viewpoint. However, many seniors are disconnected with the realities of STDs in today’s world. Several organizations have taken up the challenge to educate seniors on both the new medical and social realities of sex in the new century.

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