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Tuesday, 07 February 2023 13:29

Healthy Intimate Relationships in Older Adulthood

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Need for intimacy does not diminish as we grow older. Whether romantic or platonic, maintaining close relationships helps older adults experience greater vitality, a sense of belonging, and deeper meaning in life. There are also many health benefits that come with maintaining healthy intimacy during one’s golden years.

Benefits of Intimate Relationships for Older Adults

  • Lower stress, greater resilience
  • Better recovery following surgery
  • Protection against depression and anxiety
  • Lower resting blood pressure
  • Enhanced feelings of self-worth and meaning
  • Overall better health (e.g., less frequent illness)
  • Longer lifespan

Ways Older Adults Can Enhance Intimate Relationships

Whether it’s the closeness between two friends or sparking romance, there are some very simple ways to older adults can enhance their intimate relationships.

Everyday Moments Matter. Physical touch in small, mindful doses throughout the day is an easy way to let someone know of your affection for them. From a spontaneous backrub or foot rub to a gentle touch on the hand or shoulder, these signal to the other person that they are important to you. 

Laugh Together. This is a good excuse to go to a funny movie or a comedy club: Laughing eases stress, promotes social bonding, and lowers blood pressure. It may even boost your immune system. Whether with your romantic partner or a special friend, think of ways that the two of you can laugh together more often.

Share More Deeply. Conversation with your significant person is a great way to build intimacy. However, discussion should be about more than the weather or the latest tragic story of the day. Sharing more deeply means opening up your heart, revealing feelings and disclosing hopes, fears, or dreams. 

Switch-up Your Routine. By the time we reach older adulthood, we can be pretty set in our ways and routines. To create intimacy, get adventurous by switching-up your routines. This could be as easy as trying a new restaurant, working on a project/ hobby or taking a class together, or planning travel to destinations more exotic than you would typically consider.

It’s Thoughtfulness That Counts. We can get so accustomed to a platonic or romantic partnership that we forget to show appreciation for the other person by simply doing something nice for the other person. Enhancing intimacy can be as easy as offering a compliment, buying a small bouquet of flowers, helping with chores that are typically “the other person’s job”, or cooking a meal for the other person.

Unplug. Just like younger generations, older adults can get sucked into the digital world. Socializing on fine and developing new technology skills are great, but technology should not replace or interfere with personal interaction. Unplug and be fully present, in person.

Get a Little Sexy. Sexual intimacy in older adulthood can boost self-esteem, help reduce stress, enhance immunity, improve sleep, and help you maintain overall good health. If you’ve still got mojo to share (and who doesn’t) then get a little sexy! This might mean buying tasteful intimate attire for your partner, sharing a bed rather than sleeping apart (as many older couples resort to), exploring different ways to experience touch (e.g., massage), or if needed, working with a therapist who specializes in intimacy in older adulthood.

Healthy physical and emotional connection in older adulthood enhances intimate relationships. It’s good for your physical and emotional health and can strengthen friendships or spice-up romantic relationships.

At Everbrook Senior Living, the Life-Enrichment Activities Program is just one of the many offerings that focus on helping our residents establish and maintain meaningful relationships throughout the golden years. To learn more about our programs and arrangements for independent or assisted living, get in touch with us, today.

Resources

National Institutes of Health: Sexuality in Older Adulthood

Why is Intimacy Important for Older Adults? National Council on Aging

Read 1606 times Last modified on Wednesday, 08 February 2023 03:06
Karen M. Rider

Karen M. Rider, M.A. crafts credible and compelling health content to better engage readers in their own health journey. With 16 years of health writing experience, Karen has worked with a variety of healthcare organizations, senior living services, and medical practitioners to develop content that elevates consumer health literacy.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/karen-m-rider
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