Two doctors share answers to their patients' most-asked questions.
Q: I'm less interested in sex these days. Is there anything I can do about it?
Dr. Stephen Holzapfel, Director, Sexual Medicine Counselling Unit, Women's College Hospital in Toronto says:
"Sexual concerns are common for both women and men, with decreased desire topping the list for women. Sexual issues can arise due to medical, psychological, relational or environmental factors. Some medical side-effects can be treated with medication, such as taking a local estrogen to help with menopausal pain that can make intercourse uncomfortable. Take note of any medication, such as some antidepressants and cardiac drugs, that can contribute to a decrease in libido and seek out medical alternatives when possible. Psychological factors, such as depression, anxiety or a previous trauma, can also affect sexual interest. Relational stresses, from raising young children to managing busy careers to caring for aging parents, can leave many emotionally, physically and physiologically too tired to have sex."
Q: Are mental health issues a normal part of aging? How can I take care of my brain?
Dr. Valerie Taylor, chief of psychiatry, Women's College Hospital in Toronto says:
"The presence of mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression and dementia, in adults over the age of 65 ranges from 17 to 30 percent. This doesn't mean that aging should automatically be associated with poor mental health, as many older adults find a renewed sense of purpose and continue to have a positive mental outlook into their 70s, 80s and 90s. It's important to engage in proactive wellness exercises that include physical and mental activities. A big concern for many is forgetfulness; keep your mind sharp by continuing to learn new things. An inevitable part of aging is the loss of some key relationships—with your partner, family members or close friends. Find a way to acknowledge those losses while still enjoying loved ones around you. A key component to staying psychologically healthy is to maintain meaningful relationships."