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Conforming or opposing the stereotypes? A study of the sexuality of Croatian older adults / Sinković, Matija.

By: Sinković, Matija.
Material type: ArticleArticleDescription: str.Other title: Conforming or opposing the stereotypes? A study of the sexuality of Croatian older adults [Naslov na engleskom:].Subject(s): 5.05 | 5.06 | older adults, sexuality, stereotypes | older adults, sexuality, stereotypesOnline resources: Click here to access online In: 47th Annual Conference of the British Society for Gerontology: Ageing in an Unequal World - Shaping Environments for the 21st CenturySummary: While in the past it was assumed that sexuality is irrelevant for older adults, recent research has shown that a majority of older adults does consider sexuality and sexual activities as important part of their lives (Graugaard, Pedersen, & Frisch, 2012). Still, stereotypes of asexual old people persist. It is presumed that older adults have no more need, desire nor physical capability for sexual activities, that old bodies are anti-sexual and that any interest in sexuality is inappropriate for their age. These stereotypes present a barrier when looking for intimate partners as they limit the pool of possible partners open for intimate relationship in older age. Also, it is possible that they affect relations within long term relationships and marriages where there is a discrepancy between partners’ sexual expectations due to different internalisation of societal expectations. In this qualitative study of Croatian older adults I will explore how they perceive stereotypes about their sexuality, do they conform to them or actively oppose them and how stereotypes affect their sexual health status and sexual behaviours. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 30 participants (age >64) and were analysed using thematic analysis. Many older adults have reported that they do not believe in asexuality stereotype and if they had the opportunity they would have more active sexual life while others conformed to the social expectations of asexual older age. Differences between these two groups in general well-being and sexual behaviour are explored.
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While in the past it was assumed that sexuality is irrelevant for older adults, recent research has shown that a majority of older adults does consider sexuality and sexual activities as important part of their lives (Graugaard, Pedersen, & Frisch, 2012). Still, stereotypes of asexual old people persist. It is presumed that older adults have no more need, desire nor physical capability for sexual activities, that old bodies are anti-sexual and that any interest in sexuality is inappropriate for their age. These stereotypes present a barrier when looking for intimate partners as they limit the pool of possible partners open for intimate relationship in older age. Also, it is possible that they affect relations within long term relationships and marriages where there is a discrepancy between partners’ sexual expectations due to different internalisation of societal expectations. In this qualitative study of Croatian older adults I will explore how they perceive stereotypes about their sexuality, do they conform to them or actively oppose them and how stereotypes affect their sexual health status and sexual behaviours. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 30 participants (age >64) and were analysed using thematic analysis. Many older adults have reported that they do not believe in asexuality stereotype and if they had the opportunity they would have more active sexual life while others conformed to the social expectations of asexual older age. Differences between these two groups in general well-being and sexual behaviour are explored.

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