02/05/2013 01:34 pm ET

Senior Citizens: Lisa Ling Says Elderly 'Just Might Surprise You'

By Lisa Ling

In this piece, the host of OWN's “Our America with Lisa Ling” opens up about the episode she’s wanted to do for years -- and the extremely unexpected information she received about sex over 60.

I always knew my parents’ generation -- and their parents' generation -- were, in so many ways, living resources with precious stories to tell. But it wasn’t until I spent time talking to so many of America's senior citizens that I realized how powerful and relevant their stories are in today’s world. I met a woman who got a kiss from Elvis Presley and a man who told riveting tales of being a secret service agent for three U.S. presidents. If we took the time to sit down with just about anyone considered a “senior,” one could glean such a fascinating perspective on so much. I love asking those considered my elders how the political and economic challenges that we face compare with decades ago. I also love to spend time with older women to talk about how women’s roles have changed throughout the generations.

Secondly, I learned that sex is on the mind of way more seniors than I ever expected. Some might not like to think about the fact that America’s seniors are having a lot of sex, but I think it’s pretty inspiring and something to look forward to in our twilight years. I spent time in a retirement community in Boca Raton, Florida, where most residents are widowed. While some people were mourning the loss of their spouses, others were looking to start new relationships… and not just platonic ones. In fact, what I experienced there had me totally flabbergasted. The candor. The flirtation. The threesomes… yes, that did come up in the “Sex Over 60” class. Yet another example of why our seniors shouldn’t be overlooked: They just might surprise you.

And thirdly, I learned the depths of a daughter's love for her mother. While many folks aren’t letting age prevent them from pursuing their promiscuous sides, the reality is that life has dealt them challenging cards. We also spent time with a beautiful woman who suffered from a stroke in her early eighties. She went from being very active to virtually losing all control of her bodily functions. She is now totally reliant on her daughter and son-in-law for everything, including helping her use the bathroom. In most countries, it’s expected that children will one day have to take care of their elderly parents. In the U.S., it is quite rare. Older Baby Boomers are already considered senior age, and as more embark on that period in their lives, more of their descendants will have to start seriously considering how to handle it. Most of us have been lucky to have parents who were there for us when we needed them. We just need to think about whether we will really be up for the challenge when they need us.

“Our America with Lisa Ling” airs every Tuesday night at 10 p.m. ET/PT on OWN. The episode “Secret Lives of Seniors” premieres Tuesday, February 5.



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