The benefits of sex for the elderly

Community experts from La Trobe University’s Faculty of Health Sciences reveal easy, sure-fire ways to improve your health and well being in a new series.

This second piece in our series of health tips is about why people 65 plus should be having sex. Rhonda has been teaching and researching aged care for over 30 years, and is helping the aged population and their families address a taboo issue—the elderly and sex.

Rhonda’s research focus includes staff-family relationships, sexual expression and sexuality, person-centred care and pain management.  She is also the Director of the Institute for Social Participation (ISP), Australian Centre for Evidence Based Aged Care (ACEBAC), Australian Institute for Primary Care (AIPC) and TIME for dementia – the Victorian and Tasmanian Dementia Training Study Centre. 

Rhonda believes on getting her research into practice to improve the quality of life of residents, families and staff.  This week Rhonda gives advice on the elderly and sex. 

She says older people report sex gets better with age,

‘They are not worried about pregnancy, have learned to communicate better with their partner and know their own bodies,’ she says. 

So, just a message to all you younger people, ‘older folk still have and enjoy sex!’.


Three ways to prove sex is not only for the young:

1.     “Medication and pain can affect libido, but you can still be intimate with your better half” Rhonda says. Treatments and medications can interfere with our ability to enjoy our sexuality. Prostatectomy is a major one for men and their partners to discuss before having surgery.  Many medications prescribed to older people for high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, arthritis can affect libido. Pain can be reduced by taking analgesics before sex, better positioning, lubricants and for some women, hormone replacement therapy.

2.    Sexuality for older people has to come out of the closet. Do not be embarrassed to raise issues with your GP – we know they are not sure how to talk about sex with you – Rhonda suggests a good dose of humour always helps, no one ever died from embarrassment. Next time you visit your GP raise the issue and laugh at their discomfort!

3.    People in residential aged care have the adult right to relationships and protection from unwelcome sexual activity. ‘Being in residential care does not and should not reduce sexual desires,’ Rhonda says. Staff need to learn how to respect residents’ rights while also ensuring abuse is avoided: there should be NO sexual relationship between staff and residents. Adult children – before interfering – stop and think how you would respond if YOUR children interfered in your sex life!! Old folk have the adult right to relationships.

About our Community Health Series:

This is the second in a series of health tips from La Trobe University’s Faculty of Health Science.

Some of Australia’s best health care professionals from a wide range of disciplines are taking part in this series providing regular health tips. The features of the series will be from the dentistry, complementary medicine, sexual health,  and men and women’s health,. Experts are available for interview if you would like to pursue a topic further.

If you would like to ask Rhonda about her health tips or her research please contact:
Phone: (03) 9479 3935

For a schedule, photograph of experts and more information about regular health tips from La Trobe please contact:


Mikhaela Delahunty, La Trobe University Media Officer on

T: 03 9479 5353