So often we fear growing old, or think of it as a time when life's possibilities will be closed to us. Today an article in the New York Times reminded us old age can be a time of discovery, of joy and of true love:
All too often we imagine that life seems to end at the nursing home door—that it is loveless and lonely, with death hovering close by.
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We make this mistake when we refuse to see the needs for intimacy even in the most debilitated elderly. Our youth-centered culture equates love with sex; in contrast, I have seen with my older patients that love can be an endlessly blossoming flower, felt and expressed in hundreds of ways. A friend's mother who suffers from Alzheimer's disease has fallen in love with another resident on her floor, and they walk around holding hands and snuggling with a newfound innocence that perhaps only their memory loss restored.
Inspired by the piece, we came up with five reasons to look forward to your old-age love life.
1. Retirement travel. You finally get to spend all that money in your 401k, and you can do whatever you want, including traveling with your spouse to all those places you dreamed about when you were juggling two kids and two careers.
2. Meeting someone new. We've heard tons of stories of elderly folks meeting new people. Love doesn't really doesn't have an age-limit. You could even rekindle a romance from 50 years ago, like this man did.
3. Summer camp crushes. There is nothing more fun then sleep-away-camp romance, and a good nursing home is kind of like an extended summer camp stay. According to this woman,
Unlike the friendships [one] makes as an adult, slowly nurtured over dinners and drinks, bonds in a nursing home, where there is nothing to do but talk, are forged quickly and deeply.
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4. Knowing what you want sexually. By the time you hit 70, you probably know what you like in bed, and you're comfortable enough with yourself that you're not afraid to ask for it. 5 Things I Wish I Knew About Sex at 30
5. Getting beyond the vanity of youth. Speaking of being comfortable with yourself, as women we tend to worry so much about aging and losing our looks, but, hopefully by the time you reach old age you've reached some kind of peace with your imperfect body. It's not a given, but we'd like to think that the wisdom of age includes self-acceptance.