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Health Forum Online    The Psychologist's Source for C.E. Credits Online

Human Sexuality: The Role of Aging and Illness

by Tinesha Banks, MPH & Ayana Bradshaw, MPH 3 CE Credits

Many older adults experience sexual dysfunction as secondary to a primary acute medical illness such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, dementia, or arthritis. As concerns related to sexuality emerge from the background of those related to an initial diagnosis and treatment of a medical illness and begin to be more salient, older patients may still not be comfortable addressing issues of a sexual nature, even in a confidential therapeutic context. Despite recent paradigm shifts in how we view and treat certain age-related and/or health-related sexual dysfunctions, it is not uncommon for issues of a sexual nature to be absent and/or minimized in the course of an older patient’s physical and psychological care. Given the “graying” of America, health professionals need to be knowledgeable about the multitude of medical and psychosocial factors that may arise as individuals age which can – and do – affect their sexuality.

This course provides the tools necessary for health professionals to feel more secure with the facts about sexuality with regard to the “normal” aging process and to be more knowledgeable about how common medical illnesses within a geriatric sample can impact sexuality. The information in this course can raise personal and professional awareness on the subject and render clinicians more competent to sensitively address these issues in the psychological care of their older patients.


This online course is approved for APA CE credit, NBCC CE clock hours and ASWB Clinical CE clock hours. NYSED CEs are NOT approved for this online course.


Course Sections/Outline:

  • Overview
  • Definitions: Dysfunction vs. Normal Development
  • The Aging Body vs. The Aging Soul: Impact on Sexuality
  • Gender Differences
  • Medical Factors That Impact Sexuality Among Older Adults
  • The Psychological Impact of Disease on Sexuality
  • The Role of the Mental Health Professional
  • Summary
  • References

Learning Objectives:

After completing this course, health professionals will be able to:
  • Identify at least five psychosexual challenges associated with four medical conditions prevalent in older adults and how these challenges differ from “normal” aging.
  • Articulate four patient-based and nine provider-based barriers to diagnosis and treatment of psychosexual disorders in this patient base.
  • Demonstrate greater ability to sensitively address the issue of sexual impairment and/or dysfunction among the older, medically-ill patient by defining the four levels of the PLISSIT model.
  • Predict at least four common themes in treatment and how to utilize an evidence-based intervention to ameliorate specific symptoms and improve overall quality of life in these patients.