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Sex, Sexuality, and Gender in Older Age

Navigating Life’s Changes: Embracing Sexuality and Gender in Later Years

Welcome to a space where we celebrate life’s journey, no matter what age you are. I’m Kathy Russeth, MD, an integrative child psychiatrist and adult psychiatrist who believes in the power of understanding, compassion, and holistic well-being. Through my practice, I've seen how stresses faced by parents and grandparents can profoundly shape a family environment. Challenges relating to sex, sexuality and gender expression do not magically disappear as we grow older, and sometimes come to the forefront, no longer avoidable. Unfortunately, open discussion of intimate issues remains taboo in many circles.

My goal is to break down those taboos and refocus the conversation on fulfillment, intimacy and mental health across the lifespan, as I firmly believe that understanding, acceptance, and self-discovery are lifelong processes.

 

This page is meant to be a starting point, raising points of discussion that can often be overlooked or stigmatized. As such, below you will find a selection of resources collected and created to provide thoughtful, evidence-based guidance on nurturing relationships and sexual wellness as adults of all ages. My hope is that these resources help spark open, judgment-free dialogue and empower everyone to celebrate sexuality as a vital part of health at any stage of adulthood.

 

Please explore the articles, guides, and links we’ve compiled, and know that you’re not alone on this journey. Your unique path deserves to be celebrated and embraced, and I’m here to support you every step of the way. Let’s navigate life’s changes together, with respect, empathy, and an open heart!

Kathy Russeth, MD

Integrative Child Psychiatrist and Adult Psychiatrist

Sex, Sexuality and Gender - What to Expect in Our Older Years

This educational handout provides insights into common changes older adults experience with sexuality and relationships, along with strategies for maintaining an active sex life.

Debunking Myths about Sexuality in Older Age

Many harmful myths persist around sexuality and aging. Read our informational handout dispelling common misconceptions about sex and seniors.

 Reignite Your Passion!

To reignite passion and improve intimacy in your relationship, work through this insightful worksheet together that guides you to identify appreciation, needs, barriers and hopes so you can reconnect on a deeper level.

For Trainees

This document outlines key perspectives for trainees to develop informed, affirming attitudes about diverse sexual expression across the lifespan. Topic introductions span sexuality's multidimensionality, lifelong sexual health, evolving relationships, diverse identities, body changes, grief, cultural differences, and the importance of sex-positivity in older age.

What does a Child Psychiatrist know about healthy sexuality in the older years?

While my training encompasses supporting mental health across the lifespan, I believe we must take a holistic view and break taboos around sexuality in older age groups to truly nurture family wellness. Check out my blog post on this.

Challenge Your Assumptions

The worksheets include common negative thoughts older adults may have about intimacy, along with space to brainstorm personalized examples and alternatives. Worksheet 1 focuses on myths that can get in the way of sexual satisfaction and effectiveness. Worksheet 2 tackles myths that can undermine relationship quality and self-respect.

Meditation practices

As we age, our sexuality and sensuality evolve in ways both enriching and challenging; this meditation guides you to find peace, wisdom, and openness through your changing physicality and sexuality. Here are two examples of meditation scripts, but I also love the work of Kristen Neff. A number of scripts on self-compassion can be found here

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