Sex, Drugs, and Rock-n-Roll

Sex, Drugs, and Rock-n-Roll is more than an homage to the 60’s era. Considering each topic through the lens of aging brings surprising results – good and bad. Let’s consider the good first!

The great news about sex as we age: we are hardwired to enjoy intimacy throughout our lifespan. Since the need does not diminish with age, people are having sex well into their 80s, 90s, and beyond – and sexually active seniors report sex is more physically and emotionally satisfying now than it was for them in their 40s.

The bad news: outdated mindsets keep us from openly discussing the real risks of having unprotected sex. Unafraid of pregnancy and understandably in search of natural, intimate companionship seniors are not (re)discovering safe sex habits. This reality has led to an unprecedented (and growing) number of sexually transmitted diseases and infections among our aging population. Often mistaken for urinary tract infections or other ailments, these diseases are preventable. But, research shows physicians stop asking patients about their sex lives after patients reach fifty years; by today’s standards, patients are literally going half their lives without the benefit of medicine for treatable, preventable diseases because many of us simply cannot get past the ick factor to address this avoidable trend.

How about the good news about drugs? Drugs are a primary factor in living longer with less pesky symptoms from chronic disease, pain, and acute illness. As our Baby Boomers come up through the aging ranks, it is no surprise marijuana is now legalized for more than half our nation. This phenomenon is providing promising alternative treatments to myriad of ailments more commonly experienced as we age.

Don’t be fooled – it’s not all harmless recreational dabbling. The bad news reveals an increased use of illicit drugs worldwide among older adults, leading to a shocking rise in reported associated addiction, violent crime, and an underworld of risky behaviors to supply seniors with their drug(s) of choice. Signs of withdrawal and dependence are commonly overlooked or misdiagnosed for neurocognitive, movement, or other progressive disorders, leaving drug-seeking older adults addicts to fend for themselves without detection, intervention, or a chance at recovery.

There really is no bad news about Rock-n-Roll. The influence of music on everything from mood to cardiac health, neurological interventions to creativity, rehabilitative advances to cognitive breakthroughs of lucidity from music are just a few examples of how music makes a profound difference in the aging mind, body and spirit. The key here is to see music as a therapeutic tool – using it to awaken what ails the listener with music that is favorited by the individual. Easy listening music lovers will not benefit from headbanger rock – and vice versa. So, be selective and enjoy every beat.

The Sex, Drugs, and Rock-n-Roll era is far from over for older adults. In fact, it’s bringing a whole new level of excitement and enrichment to aging adults. So, let the good times roll – and be mindful of the real pitfalls that can accompany what was once considered an unconventional lifestyle.