- We know sexual activity leads to better health and longevity. But staying sexually active requires accommodations. We can overcome hormonal changes by being more emotionally intimate. I recommend shared music, small gifts, heartfelt notes (even emails), and words, candles and perhaps even risqué lingerie, but forget the second glass of wine -- it won't help. Most of all, I urge you to listen to your partner.
- Because of erectile challenges that come with age, male sexual readiness requires more foreplay. Female readiness requires this too, along with the romantic considerations above.
- Men who use Viagra and other erectile-dysfunction medications should be very aware of their partner's feelings. Some women I surveyed felt their men wouldn't need the little blue pill if they looked like they did when they were younger women. Men should address this by exploring their non-phallic sexuality and by educating their partner that desire is not indicated solely by teenage arousal signs.
- Remember this when you look at your partner -- he or she is aging as you are, perhaps feeling a bit down because they aren't as sexy as they used to feel, and thus both partners would do well to remember that a decrease in sexual physicality can be overcome by increased sexual intimacy and expressed desire. Again, that's where sexual intimacy can and will protect against such a negative spiral.
The good news about my boomer research is that I found that you feel really good about your lives. You like looking back at what you've achieved, and you are looking forward to accomplishing more.
Now it's time for boomers to look inward and delve into under-explored parts of your lives. This means being open to new ways of looking at your sex lives too. And very importantly -- this is especially for the guys -- let's include close, intimate friendships. Intimate sharing with friends and lovers in one's later years often is even more important than it was when you were teenagers.
Boomers, in the end, are just like all of us. You don't only need sexual intimacy, you also need good friends with whom you can share your fears and hopes. It may be the only antidote to mortality.
Jerrold Shapiro, just a few years beyond boomerdom, is professor of counseling psychology at Santa Clara University and author of the new book, "Finding Meaning, Facing Fears, In the Autumn of Your Years (45-65)."