Older, Wiser, Sexually Smarter recognizes that the sexual scripts most of us learned as children are painfully inadequate for our lives as older adults. These scripts, instructing each of us how to think, feel, and act as male or female persons, commonly focus on the reproductive function of sex, define sex as penetrative intercourse only, stereotype gender roles, portray sex as for the young, discount gay, lesbian and bisexual persons, and generally discourage positive sexual attitudes. Such scripts need to be challenged.
In addition, many life changes require people to develop new expectations for their sexual lives. Loss of a partner through death or divorce, a variety of illnesses and disabilities, new relationships, even the attitudes of one s own children may require a new view of oneself as a sexual person.
These lessons encourage participants to identify the issues that confront them, re-think their old scripts, and consider how to create new and positive ways of being sexual as they age. Older, Wiser, Sexually Smarter includes three useful timelines, and includes lessons that address additional concerns including: intimacy and communication issues; masturbation; body image; spirituality; cyber sex, and how to talk about sex with your physician.
by Susie Wilson*
Brava and bravo to Brick, Lunquist, Sandak and Taverner who have produced a winner with Older, Wiser, Sexually Smarter that could change the course of the history of sex education in the United States. The team has written a great series of lessons that move us away from our fixation with teen sexuality to the concept that sexuality is indeed also for older adults, particularly those from midlife through old age.
As usual with the past manuals written by these extraordinarily knowledgeable educators, supplemented by colleagues in the field, they offer older adults a vision of what lifelong sexual pleasure can truly be, if understood, accepted and mutually enjoyed. Mid and later life sexual health can be enhanced, they posit, with high-quality, honest, and accurate education that offers information, skills, and values exploration. Lucky are the Baby Boomers — who gave us ‘free love’ and Woodstock — to have a blueprint for how to be sexually fulfilled for the second half of their lives.
It is my hope that this wonderful product, thoughtfully and sensitively written, will be widely disseminated and used. I hope that medical and clinical professionals, geriatricians, social workers, adult educators, continuing education programs, nursing homes, assisted living and over-55 communities, houses of worship, nonprofits, community organizations, and men’s and women’s clubs will integrate it into their programs.
If a clean conscience is our only sure reward in life, then these authors can rest easy. They are going to make countless people happier with themselves and others, and help many celebrate the lifelong gift of human sexuality.
* Susie Wilson, MS.Ed., is the Senior Advisor to Answer at Rutgers University
NEW EXPECTATIONS becomes OLDER, WISER, SEXUALLY SMARTER
by Peggy Brick
In 2003 Jan Lunquist and I created a teaching manual, New Expectations: Sexuality Education for Mid and Later Life, providing educators with 25 field-tested lessons for older adults. It aimed to help people “celebrate sexuality from birth until death.” Six years later, informed by many workshops, trainings, new resources and research reports, we have developed this completely revised (and renamed) second edition. It is greatly enhanced by the work of our two new authors, Bill Taverner and Allyson Sandak, and by creative lessons from a number of new educators.
Like New Expectations, Older, Wiser, Sexually Smarter recognizes that the sexual scripts most of us learned as children are painfully inadequate for our lives as older adults. These scripts, instructing each of us how to think, feel, and act as male or female persons, commonly focus on the reproductive function of sex, define sex as penetrative intercourse only, stereotype gender roles, portray sex as for the young, discount gay, lesbian and bisexual persons, and generally discourage positive sexual attitudes. Such scripts need to be challenged.
In addition, many life changes require people to develop new expectations for their sexual lives. Loss of a partner through death or divorce, a variety of illnesses and disabilities, new relationships, even the attitudes of one’s own children may require a new view of oneself as a sexual person.
Other barriers to older adults seeking sexual health and happiness are the current commercialization and the “medicalization” of sex, both of which promote quick (and expensive!) “solutions” to often complex interpersonal problems. An overwhelming array of “cures” tempt us: plastic surgery makeovers promise to correct every imperfection from wrinkles to “vulval unsightliness”; pills and a wild variety of penis enhancements guarantee larger, stronger, more powerful erections; an ever-more-exciting plethora of sex toys assure bigger, better orgasms; widely advertised videos assure us of “better sex for a lifetime.” 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 can really enhance their sexual lives.
Our lessons encourage participants to identify the issues that confront them, re-think their old scripts, and consider how to create new and positive ways of being sexual as they age. Older, Wiser, Sexually Smarter updates and expands all the lessons, includes three useful timelines, and adds lessons that address additional concerns including: intimacy and communication issues; masturbation; body image; spirituality; cyber sex, and how to talk about sex with your physician.
We welcome your feedback!
Sexuality in Mid and Later Life: An Introductory Lesson
This session introduces participants to the concept of “sexual scripts” which are learned from birth and affect all our attitudes, feeling, beliefs and values regarding sexuality. Participants compare scripts in two diverse societies, examine their own scripts and suggest ways scripts need to change as people age. Includes a basic facts quiz regarding sex and aging.
Sexuality Today: The Changes We Have Seen
Participants develop a time-line identifying major changes in attitudes, values and behaviors regarding sexuality in the United States during their lifetime. They compare their attitudes and behaviors regarding sexuality when they were adolescents with attitudes and behaviors of adolescents today.
Reflections: Past, Present, Future
Three wonderful activities provide participants with an opportunity to reflect on their lives: sharing early memories of sexual learning, remembering important people and experiences, and examining “peak and pit” experiences from the past.
What’s So Funny? Laughing at Ourselves or What Jokes Tell Us About Sex In Mid and Later Life.
Jokes about sex and aging are popular on the Internet. In this session, participants laugh, examine the assumption and stereotypes jokes make about sex and aging and discuss the impact these attitudes on the sexuality of people in mid and later life.
Looking Backward and Forward: Five Generations of Change
Participants compare their own lives with those of a grandparent, parent, child and grandchild and in doing so identify changing attitudes toward gender roles, marriage and family, and sexuality over five generations.
Sages Through the Ages: Advice from the Past, Questions for the Present
Participants get an historical perspective on sexuality by examining a variety of quotations about sexuality. From those of a Greek physician to modern-day religious fundamentalists, the statements reveal how many are the meanings of sex. They examine questions about current governmental policies aimed at controlling citizens sexual behavior.
People in My Life: Charting a Personal Network
Participants think about their current personal relationships by creating a sociogram that illustrates their connections with family, friends and colleagues. They consider how their personal network has changed over the past five years and whether they plan to make changes in their network in the future.
GOOD Sex: What Makes It So?
With Anne Turrell, M.S.W.
Participants identify the qualities of a good lover and identify ways people can have “good sex” with “outercourse,” sex that is non-penetrative and focuses on the whole body rather than just the genitals.
Talk About Sex
By Linda De Villars, Ph.D.
Participants reflect on communication about sex in their family of origin, considering how it has affected their ability to talk about sex today. They discuss feelings about slang words and words for body parts and talk about the importance of communicating openly with a partner.
After evaluating a variety of behaviors for the degree of intimacy expressed, participants identify major barriers to couple communication and intimacy. They reflect on “The Triangular Theory of Love” and learn to use Transactional Analysis as a way to overcome communication barriers to Intimacy.
Conversations About Sex: Skills to Navigate Challenging and Turbulent Waters
By Katherine Anne Forsythe, MSW
Participants identify self-defeating beliefs that keep people from talking about sex and then learn specific skills for navigating conversations: thought stopping; get-to-the-point statements; 5 stepping stones and “The 10 Minute Soap Box.”
Looking for Love in Later Life
By Allyson Sandak, M.A. and Ashley Generallo.
This is a wonderful lesson for people who are single and exploring the possibility of new relationships. It identifies the barriers to developing new relationships and suggests strategies for overcoming those barriers.
Skin Hunger: Everyone Needs Touch
Physiological facts and historical tidbits support our universal need for body contact. Participants give and receive a hand massage.
For the Whole World: A Vision of Sexual Rights
This session presents the Declaration of Sexual Rights from the World Association of Sexology, which includes the right to sexual freedom, autonomy, privacy, equity, pleasure, information, and health care. Participants identify rights of older people are denied and plan how people could advocate change.
Grandparents: Sexuality Educators par Excellence
Participants explore the many ways grandparents can support the future sexual health of their grandkids by initiating conversations, giving books, listening and giving wise advice.
The Right to Sexual Expression: A Guide for Centers and Caregivers
This session is designed for people who work in assisted living and nursing homes. Staff examine their own attitudes and behaviors regarding resident sexuality, discuss the basic facts about sex and aging and evaluate recommended guidelines for interacting with residents.
“Finally, a comprehensive sex-ed program for adults! Older, Wiser, Sexually Smarter respectfully acknowledges and encourages older adults’ sexual interest, curiosity, desire, and ability while building sexual health knowledge and relationship skills. I love this manual’s flexibility: the lessons build on each other perfectly, but each lesson is also useful as a stand-alone workshop, allowing me to tailor programs to each group’s needs.”
Melanie J. Davis, M.Ed.
Co-President, Consortium on Sexuality and Aging at Widener University
“Sex education just blasted through the age barrier with the publication of Older, Wiser, Sexually Smarter! These topnotch sexuality educators have written a comprehensive book that is both sophisticated and fun. From dating decisions to long-term lovers, this information is so solid that people under 50 will want to crash these sex ed lessons. This is a book for educators and learners who want healthy sexuality to last a lifetime and who know that ‘sexy grandmother’ is not an oxymoron!”
Sallie Foley, LMSW Author of Sex and Love for Grownups and
former columnist for AARP – The Magazine
“Older, Wiser, Sexually Smarter is a witty and comprehensive guide to teaching sexuality education to older audiences. It is chock full of engaging ideas that are sure to delight and provoke serious self-reflection. I especially like the features that allow older learners to review social and sexual changes over the years, and see how those changes may have influenced their current attitudes and beliefs. Job well done!”
Linda L. Hendrixson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Human Sexuality and Health Education, Retired, East Stroudsburg University
“Older, Wiser, Sexually Smarter is a wonderful resource with hundreds of ideas to choose from!”
Paul Joannides, Psy.D. Author of The Guide to Getting It On
“Take an all-star team of sex educators, focus on a population whose sexuality gets almost no attention — older adults — cover every aspect of the subject with insight, gentleness, and a fiercely sex-positive attitude — and Older, Wiser, Sexually Smarter is the wonderful result. It’s a welcome, easy-to-use resource for professionals and lay people alike.”
Marty Klein, Ph.D. Author of America’s War on Sex
“An absolutely essential resource for every sexuality educator, Older, Wiser, Sexually Smarter is the first comprehensive manual of its kind and much needed in the field. The positive approach and easy-toapply techniques cover all aspects of sexuality, [including] the physical, emotional, familial, social and spiritual. It’s about time such for lessons to serve this population and honor the continued intimate lives of people of this age group, which is so consistent with my favorite advice that ‘you never have to retire from sex.’”
Judy Kuriansky, Ph.D. Pioneer sex therapist, radio call-in advice host,
and author of many books including The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Tantric Sex
“The new Older, Wiser, Sexually Smarter has been worth waiting for. It abounds with entertaining and enlightening sex education lessons on virtually every topic and issue worth considering, from sexual touch to sexual toys. But more than that: it’s actually fun to read. We can’t avoid getting older; we might as well get wiser and sexually smarter in the process!”
Sandra Leiblum, Ph.D.
Author of Principles and Practice of Sex Therapy and
Getting the Sex You Want: A Woman’s Guide to Becoming Proud, Passionate, and Pleased in Bed
“With so much emphasis on sex education for youth, Older, Wiser, Sexually Smarter is a gift for those who work with adults of all ages. These lessons can enrich the lives of adults and allow them to critique and reexamine traditional cultural messages about sexuality and aging.”
Konnie McCaffree, Ph.D., ASCE, CFLE
International consultant in sexuality education and past president, AASECT and SSSS
“The largest gap in community sex education is programs for adults in mid and later life. This void has now been filled by Older, Wiser, Sexually Smarter. The most impressive components of this manual are its honoring of diversity in terms of sexual orientation, and its welcoming approach to single people, traditional married couples, and those in nonconventional relationships. The best resource available for sex education after 40!”
Barry McCarthy, Ph.D.
Author of Discovering Your Couple Sexual Style and Men’s Sexual Health
“This book will make you wise about love, sex, and growing older. Use it as a skillful guide through the mysteries of body, mind, heart, and spirit as a reminder that it’s never too late for pleasure. Eye-opening exercises take you beyond the ‘good-girls don’t’ and ‘real-men-score’ messages that limit too many of us. The authors are seasoned educators who approach a serious subject with vitality, fun, and the understanding that sexual expression is unique for everyone. Older, Wiser, Sexually Smarter should be required reading for all educators, and just plain people of all ages.”
Gina Ogden, Ph.D., LMFT
Author of The Heart and Soul of Sex and The Return of Desire
“If you are a sex educator working with later-life seniors, you’ll not want to offer another workshop without Older, Wiser, Sexually Smarter. This manual offers 30 sex ed lessons for modern older adults ranging from the traditional to the brave, and offers current, accurate, and non-judgmental information in a fun and informal manner. This should be on every savvy senior’s bucket list!”
Pega Ren, Ed.D.
Clinical sexologist and sex and aging instructor
“Older, Wiser, Sexually Smarter is thoughtful, respectful, inclusive, professional, and utilizes the wisest precepts of adult learning. A MUST for those who work with older adults (like me!).”
Robert Selverstone, Ph.D., Psychologist
“Older, Wiser, Sexually Smarter offers 30 complete lesson plans for teaching about sexuality and sexual health in an interactive and fun manner. The topics cover the entire gamut, from basic information to sexual experiences for people with chronic illness to sexual rights in nursing homes. This is a must read for sexuality educators around the world.”
Beverly Whipple, Ph.D., RN, FAAN Professor Emerita, Rutgers University and
co-author of The Science of Orgasm, The Orgasm Answer Guide, &
The G Spot: And Other Discoveries about Human Sexuality
“Lucky are the Baby Boomers – who gave us ‘free love’ and Woodstock – to have a blueprint for how to be sexually fulfilled for the second half of their lives.”
Susie Wilson, MS.Ed.