BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — The rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) have doubled among 50- to 90-year-olds in the past decade according to the Center for Disease Control.
That is especially concerning for those in Maine since the state is home to the largest elderly population in the nation.
It is usually something to talk to the children about, but now safe sex is a conversation that may need to be had with the older generation. It is all part of the plan to reduce the growing number of STDs amongst seniors.
“This is a universal problem,” said Lenard Kaye, the director of the Center on Aging.
He has dedicated the last 16 years of his life to educating seniors about their sexual health. Since Maine has the largest proportion of baby boomers in the country, he said raising awareness here is especially important.
“It's all about helping elderly adults from becoming socially isolated,” Kaye said.
He said some of the reasons why STDs among the elderly have become such a problem is because of a lack of sex education, a lack of concern regarding pregnancy and a that-would-never-happen-to-me type of mentality.
“That has gotten them into major trouble,” Kaye said.
He said although the risk of contracting an STD is lower for those with only one partner, they are not excluded. And a dramatic increase in mid-life divorces, he said, is putting others at even higher risk.
“Anyone who's not monogamous needs to take very seriously, the importance of protecting themselves,” Kaye said.
Especially for those living in retirement communities, which he said are beginning to feel a lot more like a college campus.
“Just as it happens on a college campus, increasingly, in assisted living communities, there is a lot of hanky-panky occurring,” he said.
He said the best way to keep seniors safe is to educate them, encourage them to speak honestly with their physician and to make condoms easily accessible.
Places like the Eastern Area Agency on Aging are taking him up on that last one. By placing a basket of free condoms in every bathroom, they hope to remind seniors to practice safe sex.
For more tips on how to practice safe sex, click here.