A few years ago Charlotte and I became empty nesters. Since Cole's an only child, we were among the first in our group to get the house back to ourselves. It seemed that everyone wanted to know what it was like to finally be the master of our domain after 18+ years.
Charlotte used to cringe when I gave my patented reply to our friends. "You know this empty nester thing isn't everything they said it would be," I'd say as our friends silently nodded as they feared the worst. "It's better!" I'd laugh.
It's all true. Sadly, though many of our friends have found themselves caring for aging parents just as the last child leaves the nest. It can be more than challenging and it can take a toll on a relationship and your sex life. That's why I was happy to hear from clinical social worker and certified geriatric care manager Nataly Rubinstein. Nataly not only talks the talk, she's walked the walk as a caregiver to a person with dementia for more than 24 years. She's got some great tips to help boomers keep those sexual embers glowing even when things are at their worst.
Boomers, Sex...and Mom?
By Nataly Rubinstein
Ah, the Boomer years...the kids are finally out of the house. A chance for you and your honey to be alone just like you were the day you said I do. You're older, wiser and grayer than before you had parental responsibilities. But now you're ready to rediscover all those joys of life--including a more active sex life.
Before you get too giddy there is something I want to you to know so you can enjoy these golden years: There's a good chance your caregiving responsibilities may start up again.
I'm talking about a 2009 National Alliance for Caregiving study that found at least 65 million people in the U.S. were providing care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend. Based on these statistics, chances are pretty good you will be caring for someone who is chronically ill. Your new responsibilities will take a lot of your time -- and once again -- your sex life may suffer and get put on the back burner.
Sex does change as we age and full or part-time caregiving can reduce your sex life to nil. But, if you follow my five steps to great sex, you can bring back the spontaneity of your youth:
1. Peace of Mind.
Get past the "P" word. It used to be that we worried about pregnancy. The new "P" word is "paperwork." Nothing is sexier than knowing that all your caregiving paperwork and responsibilities are complete. This will take a load off your mind and help you relax and be carefree. Have your elder's Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Surrogate and Living Will signed, sealed and up to date. If you don't, it's like having dirty dishes in the sink.
Be open and talk to your partner. Caregiving is a full time job and we're talking 24/7. Open up and include your partner with what is going on in your life. Being physically naked is easy, but being emotionally naked is a turn-on.
3. Feel good about yourself!
As caregivers, we are so busy caring for others. Plan time that's just for you. We forget this step and then end up frustrated and depressed. Take time off. Trust me, you will be a better person for it and your family will respect and enjoy your company more, and so will you. Read a book, take a long bath, or just go out and sit in your car and let the stereo blast your favorite music. Scream if you want to!
It's hard to say "No" to friends, family, charities, your boss and other obligations, but the reality is there is only so much of you to go around. As a caregiver, your new motto must be, "charity begins at home." Saying "No" will free up your romantic time.
5. Talk to your parents about their future plans.
Create a game plan. Most of our parents avoid talking about illness and death the way our teenagers avoided speaking to us about sex. This is not about them, this is about you!
Be frank and to the point. The care you will be giving your parents is no different then the care you gave your children when you took the effort to ensure they would have a good future. Do what you need to do now to protect your own future. Be an adult, step-up to the plate and have "The Talk."
Begin today and don't put this off another moment. Start with Step 1 and work your way through each step. Soon, you will be able to kick back, enjoy freedom and have great sex!