Celibacy or Retirement STD Sex? You Decide.

Comments 52
This guy knows what I'm talking about.
This guy knows what I’m talking about.

The conversation began innocently enough, with me talking about Marathon, Fla. in the Keys as my favorite retirement location (subject to change, of course).

Then, through the sheer power of alcohol consumption, someone pointed out that there is a LOT of sex happening at retirement centers and assisted-living facilities, as if it might be something to look forward to.

I can’t verify this retirement home sex claim, but it seems plausible enough, and its veracity doesn’t matter for the purpose of this discussion.

Right up until that very moment, I’d never imagined elderly sex. You know how your brain can’t really process your own parents doing it sometimes (unless you’re one of the walk-in-during kids?) How it often seems people were immaculately conceived because no way did those two people ever have sex!!!?

My grandparents had eight children and I feel confident saying they couldn’t have possibly had sex eight times because they’re my grandparents and grandparents don’t have sex! Duh!

So, yeah. That. Wednesday night is pretty much the first time I ever thought about two older people doing it.

According to the American Health Care Association, the highest percentage of retirement home and assisted living residents are 85 years old or older (54 percent); 27 percent are 75-84; 9 percent are between 65-74, and 11 percent are under 65.

Do you think it’s like high school and college, where the older boys get excited about the new crop of freshmen? I bet it is.

Eugene and Stan are tearing up the shuffleboard courts and enjoying afternoon chess and checkers matches as guys in their 80s, and when the new 65-year-olds walk in, they probably lose their collective minds and take bets over who will be first to get to second base with that one “in the salmon-colored blouse.”

Maybe not. But probably.

One of the girls in our group suggested I might enjoy that, TOTALLY discounting the possibility of me meeting someone in the next 40-whatever years who might want to have a relationship with me and stick around the entire time. I was mildly offended until I forgot about it five seconds later when she said this: “But you really have to worry about STDs.”

Since I was drinking, I blurted: “Will we really care at that point?” thoughtlessly suggesting like an asshole that someone over [insert age of choice here] wouldn’t care if they contracted a sexually transmitted disease because they’re already old and it doesn’t matter.

That’s probably the worst thing I’ve done this week, and certainly the most ageist thing I’ve said since that time I wrote about age discrepancy between two people dating and how I think it matters more than most people do.

Given that I have no experience with STDs, and that I don’t have the first clue how I’m going to feel in my seventies or eighties should I be fortunate enough to live that long, I don’t think I’m in any position to make a call either way.

I know I’m single now with a predominantly inactive sex life and it’s totally not fun most of the time.

So, assuming I don’t morph into the made-up version of older people I invented in my head and become biologically asexual or just totally disinterested, I’m probably going to want to hook up with the fly 65-year-old Betties after the 6 p.m. showing of “Something’s Gotta Give” in the common room.

Maybe I’m 79, with high cholesterol and a bum hip. Maybe I don’t hear so well from decades of listening to music too loud.

But there will be no mistaking: “Matt. I really want you right now. But I need to be honest with you about something. I have (insert STD of choice here, which could totally be some mutated freaky one in 2058).”

And maybe I’m in a major dry spell. Like, years of nothing. Statistically speaking, I’m more likely to die tomorrow than have another shot like this.

And the choice is: Have sex (yayyyyyyyyyyyy!) and possibly contract an STD at 79 years old with constant medical treatment and supervision? Or. Politely decline the invitation because I don’t want to spend however long I have left scratching myself during shuffleboard tournaments?

Tough choice!

I’m not entirely sure what I’d do, but my best guess is I would, because I have a long history of making bad decisions, and maybe I’d want to brag to my old-guy friends about it, assuming I didn’t die during.

What I mostly care about is what you think about all this.

Have you ever thought about retirement-home sex before?

Are you imagining it right now in technicolor? You totally are.

Do you think it’s true that STDs are a problem in retirement communities?

How old is so old, where you’re just like: Screw it! I don’t care about my health or the comfort of my privates!I’m getting some.

Dying to know.

52 thoughts on “Celibacy or Retirement STD Sex? You Decide.”

        1. You just slaughtered my theory. I stand corrected.

          But I doubt I’m wrong about libidos still being a thing in our 70s and 80s.

          I didn’t think it was possible for me to find a new thing to worry about, but now this!

    1. I can’t fine you or anything for not answering the questions. I already tried to install that widget, but no one invented it yet.

      1. I just had a discussion the other day that begin with, “I view people as people, not by the relationship they are to me.” I went on to explain that for the most part, we all think about and engage in sex. For you not to think of your wife as having a sex history that didn’t involve you, or for you to discount the idea that your grandmother still has urges, is naive of you. I am a very open minded lady – ok, perhaps ‘lady’ could be argued there – ntl, I may not agree with a serial killer, but I understand the psychology behind it. With that said, I may not want to watch Pa bone Ma, but I would cheer them on if they said, “Should we do it?” Yes! Always! And STDs – my first thought was: skin infections take longer to heal on diabetic skin with no elasticity. I think that’s a good stopping point.

  1. LOL! What a funny guy you are 😉

    It’s true, older people have a great deal of sex and STD’s are growing the fastest in the elderly population. We have no idea why that is, but we suspect it has something to do with the way we place condoms in schools, but wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing in a retirement home. Also, no fear of pregnancy, old fashioned values, and a belief in one’s own invincibility. Hey, when you’re in your 80’s, you aren’t afraid of much of anything anymore.

    There is some good news hidden in all that horror however, or not if you feel challenged to try and and remain celibate your whole life, but sexual desire doesn’t really go away as we age. For many, desire actually increases. I suspect that many of those false beliefs about how older people’s sexuality just fades into the sunset, really does have a great deal to do with our own unwillingness to perceive our parents and grandparents as sexual beings, at any time in their life, for any reason.

    1. Everything you just typed rings absolutely true to me.

      No condoms in the retirement homes, eh?

      I obviously made light of this, but let’s not pretend that the second-most-important thing to do after laughing about it is have a real-world conversation about how to mitigate the health problem.

      I hope it’s clear that I don’t actually want anyone to get sick and/or spread disease. UNLESS. That’s the only option besides celibacy. 😉

  2. Frans van Rossum

    hilarious reading for someone in his seventies who lives in an assisted-ageing environment. Dating and sex are as normal a part of life as always. The ingredients are the same, the practices evolved and adjusted to experience, age, and fantasies, but this kind of companionship activity remains as enjoyable and satisfying as ever. I mean, you are talking fun, right?

    Keep health and mind up and sharp – and you can look forward to the future with no worries in all matters sexual, as far as I am concerned.

    1. So awesome.

      This is a great comment. Thank you. In your experience, are sexually transmitted diseases a legitimate threat to retirement communities, or do you think it’s probably the same as any other demographic or community?

      1. Frans van Rossum

        I can only speak for the community I know. Those who still engage in sexual relationships – and there are of course plenty who don’t or can’t anymore – are wise and experienced enough to use appropriate caution, so I don’t think that STDs are a legitimate threat.
        What I find very interesting is that the ‘actives’ are in private conversation pretty open about their sexual habits, even casual and witty, past and present, as if the stigma loses its relevance and fades out in old age. Some are very aware of it and speak with irony about what a big deal sex used to be when we were younger, and how pleasant and relaxed it has become, something to only enjoy without stigma and second thoughts.
        It’s getting better with age when the biological urge recedes and the social, communicative, fun aspects are left to prevail. This is a blessing.

        1. That’s a very interesting and probably astute observation. Thank you for the thoughtful reply.

          That’s a fascinating social dynamic you brought up, and it will be very interesting to see how all that plays out in the future.

          I hope you’re having a good weekend.

  3. I’ve never thought about anyone over the age of almost 40, having sex because I’m very self-centered. :). But now, thanks to your post, I am. And it grosses me out. Until I’m old.

    If I’m 65, I would probably decline because that isn’t that old. 80, I may be ok getting and STD just to have sex.

    And I can guarantee I’ll never own a salmon colored blouse. 🙂

    1. It’s all guesswork at this point.

      When you’re 80, you’re totally doing 80-year-old things. You won’t even remember yourself right now.

      I’m betting on salmon blouses. Frilly ones.

  4. First off, I don’t plan on retiring… Iam on the eve of my 59th rotation around the sun and I gotta say Iam blessed with great health and a pretty good bod… That’s such s 70’s word…. and I swear I feel 20ish in my soul… so that being said hopefully I’ll keep evolving with the change that getting “older” brings. Iam a fitness trainer now and am morphing into more yoga… So hell yeah I’ll be banging at 80 and I mean as in bonking 65-70 year old dudes! Trust me you young whipper snappers…getting older starts in your head.. yeah your body starts to melt but your spirit/soul is a powerful force!
    Great post Matt, as always , but gotta catch a flight to NYC to meet up with my 39 year old “f%#k” buddy that I’ve been with for 4 years!

    1. Thanks for weighing in! I was going to make a joke about how when you’re 80, I’ll be about 65 so it was going to work out famously, but then you castrated it with your news about the current 39 year old.


      Travel safe, please! Thank you for reading.

  5. I plan on having lots of sex at 80 years old. Hopefully, with my husband, but, if he goes before I do, I’m going out testing the waters while providing appropriate floaties. Plus, I will be so excited to tell the doc how much action I’m getting at my more than likely weekly appointments. Honestly, I’ve gotten way better at intimate relations with age !

  6. Matt, you ain’t seen nothing yet! It ain’t over till it’s over. Just wear protection and enjoy.

  7. Haha! I think I will be one of the 90-something cougars watching the grounds keeper or the pool boy. As far as health, I think we never throw caution to the wind—well, I’m speaking for myself, but I think I will care about what I’m putting into my body (hee hee) until I take my last breath.

    1. Discerning tastes, even at 90, is a respectable thing, I think. April. 🙂

      As Felicity pointed out, dementia may have its perks.

  8. I don’t know about you but I see a great business opportunity here: condom vending machines in assisted living communities.
    It could be a right golden goose!

      1. Seriously, low start up & almost no operating costs. Golden.
        And thanks. That’s a pretty good compliment. 😉

  9. Okay. I was going to tell you all about my Uncle Ben in the retirement home, but I’ve totally lost my train of thought. I’m sitting home on a Friday night, and some 60 year old chick is hopping a plane to bang a guy 6 years younger than me, in NYC?

    i need to eat more yogurt. Or something.

    Uncle Ben. Right.

    So he had a hot and heavy thing in the retirement home with some woman. He had sex with a few ladies, but this one became his steady slam piece. She called him “Robert” which I’m pretty sure was her dead husband’s name, but it made no difference to either one of them that she mistook him for someone else.

    1. Yeah, I’m pretty much only eating yogurt and sprouts for the rest of my life now because of that math situation.

      But 20 years difference? You could pull that. Slathered in Yoplait. Calling him “Robert.” ?

      This has been a reoccurring theme for the past 48 hours, but, man. My life is boring.

      Thank you for sharing the Uncle Ben bit. “Robert.” Very funny.

  10. We went to a marriage seminar recently. They said the people having the best sex are your grandparents. Horrors!! Thankful I don’t have any because the mental picture may have burnt my brain. Don’t have parents either – but to be opposite my Dad did tell me when my mother died they hadn’t had sex for 13 years! What the?! That made him 55 the last time he got laid. How depressing for him. What a waste of good equipment.

    I worked in a nursing home once. While the image of old wrinkly skinned people breaking hips together is enough to make you close your eyes – I’ve always said if I had to choose between losing my body or mind – I choose my mind. (Loved my dementia patients). As a bonus – You could have all the sex you like and totally forget the next day. Every time would be like the first. Every day a new adventure and a ‘new’ girl/guy. It wouldn’t get boring at least. Lol. Go the oldies! Good for them. (Despite the ‘vomit in my mouth’ mental picture). Go the vending machines too though. 😉

    1. Did professional marriage people really say that about grandparent sex? That it was the best?

      I can’t decide whether that makes me want to currently set myself on fire, or feel super-hopeful and excited about the future.

      You make excellent observations about the potential perks of mild dementia and Groundhog Day-style sex.

      Usually, I’d let a fun idea like that rattle around my brain for a while, but I think in this case I’m just going to watch baseball or something.

      1. Baseball is definitely the better option. And yes. One of the leading psychologists took the seminar. I wanted to throw up in my mouth a little… But maybe it’ll be ok when we get there. Just not now. Back to baseball …. 🙂

    1. That seems to be the running theme of your life based on all of your fantastic travel adventures, so I feel like you, more than most, are allowed to use that word.

      1. haha we all live only once, unless you’re a cockroach and you just never ever die. To quote a line from one of my all time fave movie Seven Samurai: What’s the use of worrying about your beard when your head’s about to be taken? Anyway, I’d like to think that by the time I’m like 80+ (and still fabulous), there would be a cure for that already.

  11. Did a commenter above really never consider sex after 40? Oh my goodness. Please tell me that person is 12 and using Mommy’s iPad.
    And yes, I think people over 60 have sex. We have married friends with a 27-ish year age discrepancy and she’s a smoke show (which means total hottie in case the 12-year-old can’t translate my old-timey language.)
    Clever one, Matt. Now I’m off to watch Cocoon.

    1. 27!!!

      Is she 27 years older than him? Or the other way. Regardless, this settles it. More yogurt and sprouts. Wah wah.

  12. Oh yeah, they are totally getting down. As part of my job in HIV prevention I have had to give safe sex talks at retirement homes. They giggle like middle schoolers and deny that anything happens, but then the caregivers who work there are rolling there eyes at me and pointing to the ones who have hooked up. I think its great that old people still have sex. And you don’t have to get STDs, you can use a condom…

    1. That’s a great story, Tessie. Thank you for sharing.

      OF COURSE you don’t have to get an STD! In my scenario, in the absence of Night’s savvy condom vending machine business, I was this non-sexually active old guy having a surprise out-of-nowhere hookup where the choice is clear: take your shot and possibly catch something because EHHHH! kinda old anyway! OR protect your health and maybe never get any again, everrrrr.

      I’m not saying it’s rational. I’m just saying its a fun, sit-around-drinking convo. 🙂

  13. Mostly I would like to thank you for the laughs I just got at your obliviousness. 😉

    To address you’re first funny comment of betting the older gents brag about sleeping with ladies 20-something years younger… I am sure that will be true when you or I are at retirement age.
    What you might need to consider for current homes as that that was not the done thing for these people in their youth… We are the culture we grow up in. There will be romance and sex, but I suspect it follows the same style of courtship the people are used to. Current 70-year-olds grew up in the 50’s and 60’s so we can assume there is a lot of dancing and movie watching that progresses.

    I hope that should you move into a retirement home in old age it follows suit that you worry about STD’s the same way as you do now.
    I did recently read some papers that talk about whether millenials have more sex than baby-boomers. Apparently not.


    1. I can’t speak for millennials. I’m in between them and the boomers. But if I’m any measuring stick (and I hope for humanity’s sake that I’m not), you can rest assured the boomers are winning.

  14. Sex gets better as we get older. In part because we lose some of our inhibitions, but also because we lose some of our fear and our self defining negative attitudes about sex, our body and what sex is ‘supposed’ to be. Once that happens we can start to have fun, to experiment, to please ourselves and our partners.

    When my father remarried in his sixties he spent 20 years having fun. Were he and his wife sexually active? Yes, they adored each other and it was clear they had great fun together, constantly touching, patting butts and other things. Sometimes it was a bit disconcerting, but most of the time it was fabulous to watch and made me smile.

    Now that I am nearing sixty it gives me great hope. Condoms in retirement centers? Likely a good idea. Celibacy? Terrible idea.

    1. Every bit of that makes sense to me. I worry about a variety of things sometimes that probably lessen the experience.

      The value of comfort and shedding inhibition in later years makes a lot of sense to me.

  15. In my 20’s, after a swim I overheard a lady in her 70’s talking about her current yeast infection and her doc didn’t prescribe Diflucan, just yogurt placed you know where. After recovering from a sudden fear of blindness I realized I was going to be ok after having just swam in that water.

    I think that there are more yeast infections, uti’s, and prostate issues at that age than there are std’s. Most seniors have been in at least one loyal relationship, so I think that’s less of an issue. At least I hope it is. I am looking forward to sex at that age since I’m not having any now, lol.

    1. I get it completely. The last part.

      I think there are people in this world (and their hearts are in the right place) who are super-uncomfortable with chemicals and always want to find a natural way to do everything.

      Your story, here?

      This is why we have inorganic chemicals, and occasionally, they do enormous good. 🙂

      1. I am a nurse and std’s weren’t a common problem in that age group. Socially I am a 42 yr old divorcee and have been a single mom for 11 yrs. And I’m hoping that if I am single for longer that there will be something to look forward to when I’m 60, lol.

  16. It’s totally true. There’s a retirement community in Florida called The Villages. I worked in a local hospital and heard lots of stories about wild parties where these elderly folks drop keys in a bowl at the beginning of the night and randomly select keys at the end of the night to see who they will be leaving with. This totally grosses me out. #icanteven

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Matt Fray

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