Three Reasons why STDs are on the Rise in Nursing Homes
Research by AARP over the past five years has revealed that roughly 80 percent of all Americans between 50 and 90 are sexually active. And these numbers hold equally true in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Florida ranks among the top five states in the country for sexually transmitted diseases among older adults. This statistic may not be all that surprising, given that Florida is one of the top retirement destinations in the country. However, this presents unique challenges for seniors who reside long-term care facilities. One of the hardest things for researchers to determine is why so many seniors are contracting STDs in nursing homes. Here are just a few of the top theories.
Reason #1: The Safety Myth
One common problem in nursing homes and assisted living facilities is the myth that STDs are for the young. Many seniors grew up in a time when venereal diseases were very rare among the general population. Further, because STDs were far less prevalent in decades past, many seniors may simply not be as educated and informed about prevention measures and condom use. These create a scenario where seniors have a false sense of security when engaging in sexual relationships.
Reason #2: The Pregnancy Myth
Seniors who came of age 50 or 60 years ago lived in a culture that largely rewarded chastity, because promiscuity carried one common threat – pregnancy. Although STDs were not as common, pregnancy has forever been a natural consequence of sex. Therefore, a lot of seniors, especially women, may feel empowered following menopause. There is often a renewed sense of femininity and comfort knowing that pregnancy is no longer a possibility. Unfortunately, some seniors have fallen into a false sense of safety and therefore fail to consider practicing forms of safe sex.
Reason #3: Little Blue Pills
The invention of new medications like Cialis and Viagra has awakened the spirit and libidos of countless men around the globe. This is not limited to seniors living in the community. Every year more and more older adults residing in skilled nursing facilities receive prescriptions for Viagra and Cialis, and this shows no signs of slowing. With the increased libidos and renewed sexual abilities among older men, the desire to resume sexual relationships left many years dormant understandably results in increased risks.
These risks are even more pronounced among widows and widowers, who may have had only one partner for decades. These individuals may have had little to no reason to even think about concerns like STDs. Once thrust into a new institutional setting, it can be easy to overlook the dangers of contracting a disease. Those contemplating nursing home residency should strongly consider these matters before moving in. While many people express reluctance when facing admission to a nursing home, we should celebrate the fact that so many older adults are embracing their new lives and enjoying a youthful and healthy sex life well into their later years. However, with the risks and dangers presented by close communal living environments, a little common sense and education can go a long way to preventing the spread of disease.
Of course, if a loved one has contracted an STD or any other disease as a result of nursing home negligence, we ask that you contact an attorney today. The Florida attorneys at the Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group can help ensure you are compensated for any harms suffered by your loved one.