Today’s seniors likely give little thought to the possibility and prevalence of sexually transmitted viruses like HIV. However, a number of age-related risk factors can actually make the elderly population more vulnerable to these illnesses. Prescott in-home elder care professionals discuss 4 of the major HIV risk factors for seniors and offer a few tips on preventing the virus.
1. Lack of Knowledge
It’s difficult for seniors to make informed choices about their sexual health when the information they have about STDs is outdated and possibly even incorrect. Researchers have learned a lot about HIV and the AIDS virus over the past 3 decades, and the demographics at highest risk and the most common transmission methods have changed considerably. Although HIV doesn’t get the media attention it once commanded, many new cases of this illness are reported each year. Sexually active seniors can benefit from learning about HIV prevention, even if the knowledge comes in the form of simple pamphlets their doctor has supplied.
2. Age-Related Biological Concerns
For women, the hormonal changes experienced during perimenopause and menopause often result in vaginal dryness and thinning of the vaginal walls. These changes can make vaginal tissues more likely to tear during intercourse, which can facilitate the transmission of HIV. Also, some elderly men experience erectile dysfunction, making it difficult to wear condoms. As a result, seniors are often less likely than younger adults to regularly and diligently protect themselves.
3. Erectile Dysfunction Medications
The medications designed to treat erectile dysfunction make elderly men more prone to sexual activity. These pharmaceutical products are incredibly accessible and allow aging males to maintain active and robust sexual lives during a time when they might otherwise forego these activities entirely. Moreover, some elderly men taking erectile dysfunction medications pursue younger partners who also have multiple sexual partners. The importance of diligently using protection in the senior years cannot be stressed enough.
The seniors of today were alive during the social movement of the 1960s commonly referred to as “the sexual revolution.” This movement challenged traditional beliefs and behaviors and encouraged sexual freedom on a grand scale. Seniors who have retained these values or who’ve opted to revert back to them are often at greater risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Sexually active aging adults should always have access to condoms and clear information about their increased risks.
To learn more about senior health and wellness, reach out to Home Care Assistance. We are a leading provider of respite and 24-hour care in Prescott, AZ, and we also offer specialized Parkinson’s, post-stroke, and Alzheimer’s care Prescott seniors can count on. For more information on our elder care services, call one of our experienced Care Managers at (928) 771-0105 today.